Record-Bee: Thompson calls for end of bonus repayments
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, Co- Chair of the House Military Veterans Caucus, led his bipartisan team in sending a letter to Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning asking him to grant an exception to the requirement that current and former service members who enlisted in the National Guard between 2006 and 2008 repay unauthorized bonuses.
“It’s wrong to require service members and veterans to repay enlistment bonuses that were issued in error,” said Thompson. “The brave men and women who serve our country in uniform shouldn’t be the ones paying the price for others’ mistakes. Given that the Secretary of the Army has the authority to grant an exception to these repayment requirements, he should do so without further delay. As a veteran myself, I won’t stop fighting until this egregious situation is resolved and these debts are forgiven.”
The Secretary of the Army has the authority under law to grant an exception to repayment requirements if the repayment is determined to be “against equity and good conscience, or would be contrary to the best interest of the United States.” The letter asks the Secretary to grant an exception on these grounds given the length of time since the bonuses were awarded and the misleading tactics used by the California National Guard, and others, during this period.
Thompson, himself a veteran, was appalled to learn that thousands of current and former soldiers in the Army National Guard, including 9,700 in California alone, are being asked to repay enlistment bonuses they were awarded eight to ten years ago. Upon learning of this unacceptable situation, Thompson immediately took action to help his fellow veterans find relief from this unfair financial burden.
“The men and women who bravely signed up to serve their country should not be punished because recruiting and retention officials and their supervisors made mistakes and used misleading language in their contracts,” the letter read, in part. “Many individuals chose to enlist because the bonuses they were offered provided much-needed financial relief to their families. Many also went on to serve multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is egregious to ask for these bonuses to be paid back a decade after they were awarded when these funds are unlikely to be readily available.”
In addition to Thompson, the letter was signed by Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL) and Collin Peterson (D-MN).