Representative Steve Knight (CA-25) signed a letter on Monday calling for the Department of Defense (DoD) to cease debt collection on California National Guard soldiers who were improperly paid bonuses a decade ago.
Between 2006 and 2008 thousands of California National Guard soldiers were given bonuses by recruiters to entice them to enlist or re-enlist in the military. Many of these bonuses were found to be fraudulent, and now nearly 10,000 soldiers are being forced to repay thousands of dollars back to the federal government. Rep. Knight, an Army veteran who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, called the situation appalling and is working to craft an urgent solution.
“Over the weekend my team and I investigated the recent disturbing revelation that our service members are being forced to pay back the bonuses they were promised. As we continue to gather information, we will fight to waive these supposed debts and assist our military and veteran community,” said Knight. “Our men and women in uniform risked everything to protect our country and our way of life, and we must not break our promises to them.”
On Monday Rep. Knight sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter along with 24 members of Congress calling the repayments unjust and urging the DOD to halt further attempts to retrieve outstanding debt. It also calls for a comprehensive investigation by the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau into what authorities the Department possesses to waive the repayment of these debts.
“We write to you with grave concern regarding Department of Defense efforts to recover decade-old reenlistment bonuses paid to thousands of California Army National Guard soldiers,” the letter states. “We are dismayed that our men and women who answered their country’s call to duty are now being forced to repay what was promised to them in exchange for their honorable service.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.