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From 2006 to 2008, in order to bolster a shortage of fighting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the California National Guard offered bonuses of $15,000 or more to soldiers to reenlist.
A decade later, after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California National Guard, the Department of Defense began forcing thousands of soldiers who accepted those enlistment bonuses to cough the money back up. If these soldiers didn't repay their enlistment bonuses, they were liable to be slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments, and tax liens.
Now, after pushback from citizens across the country, the Department of Defense has altered their stance. Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered a temporary halt of his staff's seeking of repayment. In its place he has ordered that a process be developed by January 1st, 2017, so that service members will still have to pay back their debt, but that they can do so in ways that are less harmful to their quality of life.
This is absurd. Many of these veterans served their country through multiple combat tours, in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Some were wounded. Some gave the ultimate sacrifice. They shouldn't have to refinance mortgages, medical bills, and student loan payments. They shouldn't have to pay for the mistakes of the U.S. Government.
Sign the petition below demanding Defense Secretary Ash Carter to forgive these debts, and to forever stop demanding payback from veterans and their families.
Dear Defense Secretary Carter,
From 2006 to 2008, the California National Guard financially incentivized reenlistment so that military presence within Iraq and Afghanistan could be strengthened. Thousands of soldiers responded, and used their bonuses as they saw fit. Mortgages. Medical bills. Student loans.
I understand that there are a lot of moving parts within the California National Guard. I understand that there are a lot of moving parts within the Department of Defense. I also understand that you have a responsibility to both the service member and the taxpayer, and that developing a process to semi-please both parties is what you'd consider a win-win scenario.
But this is wrong. These men and women risked everything for you, for me, for this country. They and their families shouldn't be asked to shrug their shoulders at a promise broken by the government they swore to protect.
Tying a bow called "process" on the matter, and continuing to force veterans and their families to repay decades-old enlistment bonuses is more than a mistake it's a tragedy I'll never be able to forgive.
Defense Secretary Carter, I demand that you do what is morally right, and forgive these enlistment bonus debts, now, and forever.