I thought I’d heard just about everything crazy until I learned this week of the countless number of service members forced to cough up thousands of dollars in reenlistment bonuses they received years ago.
On Wednesday, Jobin Panicker introduced us to Susan Haley of Kempner, Texas.
She served 24 years with California’s National Guard, including deployments to Kosovo. She wasn’t sure she’d reenlist until she got a check for $22,000.
But four years ago, the Pentagon sent a letter saying the bonus was improper, and she and her husband had to come up with $600 a month... a quarter of their income... to repay it.
On Wednesday, amidst growing public outrage… Defense Secretary Ash Carter suspended all of those repayment efforts.
Seems when enough of us shout loudly enough, it gets some attention.
But it’s not over. The key phrase in the Pentagon announcement Wednesday is “suspension of the repayment plan” ... not forgiveness of the debt… and not just that. There’s no plan to repair the financial damage incurred by service members, like the Haleys who went broke trying to pay back the money. After all, the only mistake they made was trusting the government.
And how about a simple letter of apology?
If they had given that money out last week... last month... even a year ago... I would understand it... we all make mistakes.
But this is about something from a decade ago… about money these families likely spent a long time ago.
I’m sure that among the thousands affected, a handful knew they were getting money they didn’t deserve… but that doesn’t mean we punish people like the Haleys who did serve… who did carry out their part of the contract.
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