First, the White House fielded widespread fire for how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs treated its military clients.
And now, this – that the Pentagon’been trying to recoup tens of millions of dollars from service members who received the monies as part of bonuses they thought they were contracted to receive.
Does this administration, under President Obama, care about America’s military or not?
The hard-line collections against U.S. soldiers have gone forth for some time now, a la IRS style. Finally, facing pressure and bad press, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stepped in and told the Pentagon to stop the collection efforts.
Well, about time. But don’t applaud just yet: the order’s not as all-encompassing as you’d think.
As the Los Angeles Times reported: “Aides made clear they didn’t intend to issue a blanket waiver for tens of millions of dollars in irregular bonuses and other payments given to California Guard soldiers, however, as some members of Congress have urged.”
Carter’s order didn’t even come until the Pentagon program was publicly outed in a major U.S. newspaper. Carter’s move came on the heels of a Los Angeles Times report that highlighted how Pentagon officials were taking a tough guy approach in trying to recoup payments they said were improperly made to 9,700 Guard members in California. The payments were basically distributed during the years between 2006 and 2008, as enlistment bonuses and for student loan and other debt payments.
Soldiers, as you can imagine, were upset about the pull-back on the payments – and were quoted and cited extensively in the media as victims of an out-of-control Pentagon. The Los Angeles Times report sparked some angry backlash against the Pentagon. It was shortly after that Carter sent out the order: Quit the collections.
Members of Congress and veterans’ groups are applauding Carter’s move.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, will take a longer look at some of the cases and head up an appeals process for those soldiers whose lives have been negatively disrupted by the yanking of bonus checks, or the demand to repay disbursed monies.
Carter said the collections would stop until he personally was “satisfied that our process is working effectively,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Source: Los Angeles Times