SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — It’s being called an outrage: California National Guard soldiers being told to pay back bonuses they received to re-enlist.
Help is on the way for those soldiers.READ MORE: COVID: Omicron Variant Found In San Francisco, Are New Travel Rules Looming?
Congresswoman Jackie Speier said, “Outrage would be a good way to describe it.”
Fellow Congressman John Garamendi was equally shocked at the news saying, “We knew that it involved a few but we had no idea that it involved 10,000, many of whom have had multiple deployments to the most dangerous parts of the world.”
The bonuses of up to $15,000 started in 2005 at the height of the Afghan and Iraqi wars – when guardsmen like Robert D’Andrea were being pushed to re-up.
D’Andrea said, “They were giving bonuses away in droves…gave us a briefing on it, PowerPoint presentation, this is what you qualified for…In the back of the room, sign a contract if you’re ready.”
Speier said, “It was a drive to make numbers and the National Guard here in California was not succeeding in making their numbers.”
But a new audit showed that some guardsmen may have not served in duty that earned a bonus and now the government wants the money back.
Speier put the situation in context, saying that the U.S. government even pays defense contractors for cost overruns and for services not rendered yet.READ MORE: A's, Giants Players Locked Out As MLB Owners Vote To Trigger First Work Stoppage Since 1995
“I feel betrayed,” D’Andrea said.
Garamendi said, “To come back all these years later and say oh by the way there’s a bureaucratic screw up.”
“Many of them have had their credit ratings impacted. Many of them are struggling to pay, some have refinanced their homes. It’s a real outrage” Speier said
But Speier said, “There is one quick fix for this and that is waive all of the IOU’s for every National Guard member.”
Garamendi said, “We write the laws and we can change the laws and that’s exactly what we are going to try to do.”
One of the changes proposed is that even the veterans who paid back the bonuses would get that money back.
The audit goes beyond California and other states may have the same issue.MORE NEWS: New COVID Variant 'Omicron' Identified In San Francisco; Here's What You Need To Know