Pentagon asks California soldiers to repay bonuses: report

Pentagon asks California soldiers to repay bonuses: report
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After giving thousands of California soldiers bonuses for re-enlisting in the National Guard, the Pentagon is now asking soldiers to return the money they were paid almost 10 years ago, according to a new report.

The payments came during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when the Pentagon feared a shortfall of troops, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation published Saturday.

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Recently completed audits revealed that the California National Guard was overpaying bonuses due to a lack of oversight at the time, the investigation found.

Veterans who spoke to the newspaper expressed their frustration and financial difficulties with the payment demands, which include wage garnishments, interest payments and tax liens for soldiers declining to pay.

“I signed a contract that I literally risked my life to fulfill,” Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Richmond told the Times. “We want somebody in the government, anybody, to say this is wrong and we’ll stop going after this money.”

Soldiers have paid the Pentagon $22 million back so far, but the California Guard is working to aid soldiers in filing appeals with the Army Board for Correction of Military Records and the National Guard Bureau, according to the report.

“At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard, told the newspaper.

“We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law,” he said.