Ten years ago California had a shortage of soldiers and they offered reenlistment bonuses to those who reenlisted and went to war. The soldiers did their part and now ten years later they are being threatened with garnishment of pay and possible other worse punishments for not repaying the money, even though they lived up to their part of the agreement. Almost 10,000 soldiers most of which saw combat duty are being ordered to repay their reenlistment bonuses and in other cases college tuition.
The Pentagon insists that even though they paid out the money, that California did not have the right to offer the bonuses. Well, duh!! If it’s California’s fault, demand the money from California, not the soldiers, many of whom are now taking out second mortgages to repay the money. The soldiers feel like they were ripped off and for a good reason. California and the US military got what they wanted and now they want their money back. That’s like going to a restaurant and feasting on steak and shrimp and then demanding your money back 2 weeks later.
“These bonuses were used to keep people in. People like me just got screwed.”
In Iraq, Van Meter was thrown from an armored vehicle turret — and later awarded a Purple Heart for his combat injuries — after the vehicle detonated a buried roadside bomb.
Susan Haley, a Los Angeles native and former Army master sergeant who deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, said she sends the Pentagon $650 a month — a quarter of her family’s income — to pay down $20,500 in bonuses that the Guard says were given to her improperly.
“I feel totally betrayed,” said Haley, 47, who served 26 years in the Army along with her husband and oldest son, a medic who lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan.
Haley, who now lives in Kempner, Texas, worries they may have to sell their house to repay the bonuses. “They’ll get their money, but I want those years back,” she said, referring to her six-year reenlistment.