About 10 years ago, at least 10,000 veterans in California were offered reenlistment bonuses if they would willingly reenlist to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. There were also National Guard soldiers in California who were paid over $15,000 in exchange for reenlisting as well. Now, the Pentagon has ordered all of these veterans to pay back the bonuses that were paid to them nearly a decade ago.
According to the Los Angeles Times, these reenlistment bonuses were offered to veterans because the military needed more soldiers to fight the two wars going on in Afghanistan and Iraq back in the mid-2000s. With over $15,000 being offered, it motivated many soldiers to re-enlist just so they could collect the money. But now, an investigation by the Pentagon determined that bonuses were paid too generously to these soldiers by the California Guard. The Pentagon even said some of the soldiers who received bonuses didn’t even qualify for them.
Although many of the soldiers served multiple tours overseas fighting in wars, the California Guard is forcing them to pay back the money. Most of the soldiers have to pay it back with monthly payments because they obviously don’t have the full amount anymore. Numerous soldiers have stated that they feel totally betrayed by this.
It is estimated that around 9,700 veterans and soldiers are being forced to pay their bonuses back to the government. If they don’t, they’ll be subjected to wage deductions, tax liens, and interest charges. Many of the veterans say this is going to hurt them financially and that there’s nothing they can do to get out of it.
The California Guard has already been paid $22 million so far from the soldiers. Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, who was an incentive manager for the California Guard, was found guilty in court for filing false claims which enabled over $15 million to be paid to soldiers who weren’t eligible for the bonuses. Jaffe is now serving 30 months in prison for her crime.