Believing it is “unconscionable” for the government to make soldiers responsible for what he thinks is “bureaucratic malfeasance and corruption over a decade ago,” California Congressman Darrell Issa has fired off a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter to immediately stop harassing California National Guard soldiers for enlistment bonuses while also releasing an official statement regarding what he sees as DoD unwillingness to fix the issue which is ruining credit and depleting the savings accounts of these warriors.
Slamming the DoD plan as merely an effort to rid themselves of embarrassing headlines, Issa notes this.
“The Department of Defense officials made it clear that they’re not eager to solve this injustice, but quite interested in getting the story out of the headlines to stop their own embarrassment. Their half-baked plan still fails to address what will happen to the veterans who’ve had their credit ruined, their life savings taken from them or been forced to refinance their homes”
Issa also took to Twitter to make the case to others on the social media site.
And two days after Issa’s Twitter posting, the Congressman’s message is apparently expanding. From reporter Kristina Wong’s tweet on the matter, it appears Issa is also pushing for the government to reimburse/return the money to the soldiers in California and not to merely stop demanding soldiers dig into their own pockets to make restitution.
.@DarrellIssa calls on DOD to permanently suspend @NationalGuardCA bonus clawbacks and reimburse those who have made payments: pic.twitter.com/M9cnGKXaCV — Kristina Wong (@kristina_wong) October 26, 2016
Congressman Issa also cites the original report of the matter from David S. Cloud, writing for the Los Angeles Times, wherein it was reported on October 22 that nearly 10,000 soldiers in the California National Guard “… have been ordered to repay enlistment bonuses of $15,000 or more that they were granted, in return for enlisting or reenlisting in the Guard during the peak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
In Congressman Issa’s letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, he rails against what he describes as being the “… outrageous decision to punish nearly 10,000 current and retired veterans for the incompetence and wrongdoing of others.” But the former House Oversight Chairman seems morally provoked on the government’s actions against soldiers in California. He apparently wants some accountability from government.
This is what he told the Defense Secretary about the matter.
“This is a debt that veterans who enlisted and went to war in the service of our country simply do not deserve. Although California Guard officials have pledged to work with veterans that wish to file appeals to the National Guard Bureau and the Army Board for Correction of Military Records to clear these debts, this is insufficient. Accountability demands much more. This is not how any veteran should be treated.”
The California National Guard asks citizens to become soldiers, of course. A recent YouTube video shows the outrage now from the demand by the government to have soldiers pay them back. Per this report by Cristy Fajardo, the bonuses were only supposed to go to “those in high-demand positions.”
Not content to stop at the top with the Secretary of Defense, Congressman Issa also hit up colleagues in the legislative branch of government serving on the Committee on Armed Services: John McCain, Jack Reed, Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry. Congressman Issa writes to those colleagues about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill, requesting that it also “… include a provision to fix the California National Guard’s outrageous decision to punish nearly 10,000 current and retired veterans for the incompetence and wrongdoing of others.”
He adds to his legislative colleagues that it is his belief that the Department of Defense “… should immediately halt the retrieval of these debts, and when Congress returns in November, I will insist this issue be permanently resolved with language in the National Defense Authorization Act awaiting final passage in both Chambers.”
[Featured Image by Scott Applewhite/AP Images]