Garland: Pentagon can't be stupid enough to ask for bonus repayment, right?
by Garland Robinette,posted Oct 25 2016 3:10PM
America is forcing thousands of soldiers to repay enlistment bonuses decades after going to war. When I read that, I thought, there's gotta be something more to it. The Pentagon and Congress could not be this stupid.
GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said this morning that the Pentagon should immediately stop trying to recover enlistment bonuses paid to nearly 10,000 soldiers in California who signed up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government has 45 auditors who are assigned to check on the cases of 20,000 more National Guardsmen and women.
I asked Larry Korb, Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress and former Assistant Secretary of Defense to come on and help explain what's going on here.
The Pentagon said this "has some complexities." What does that mean?
"You got a couple of issues - there was some fraud, some people who have actually been convicted of taking money they shouldn't have. The next thing is that when a soldier comes up for a bonus, you have a good idea of what you're supposed to get. If you're supposed to get 10 and they give you 20, you might ask, or maybe there's a wink and a nod. Having said all that, it's the auditors job to go in and check that out."
OK but it wasn't the soliders themselves committing fraud, right, so what happens to the recruiters and higher ups who thought this was a fair plan of action?
"What I'm dumbfounded about is where's the Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness? Where's the Secretary of Defense on this? The California Guard called Congress - where was the National Guard bureau? The head of the National Guard is now one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where was he on this? To me, that's the real failing. The people who committed the fraud should pay for it, but not these soliders."
In the second half of the show, I spoke with Shad Meshad, President and Founder of the National Veterans Foundation.
"I think you and the whole nation should be aggravated about this. This has got to be the most heinous, stupid thing I've ever heard of - it's just beyond reason, that they went back for multiple tours because of the bonuses, then come back and try to move on with their lives... and now the government is saying we made a mistake and we want our money back? That's unethical and unfathomable."
To hear the full show - prepare to get angry - click on the link below.