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Rohrabacher, Outraged by Pentagon Demand, Pledges Help to Guardsmen

Oct 24, 2016

Rohrabacher, Outraged by Pentagon Demand, Pledges Help to Guardsmen

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher on Monday expressed outrage over reports that the Department of Defense is demanding repayment of bonuses, plus interest, that at least 10,000 California National Guardsmen were paid, at sums reaching $15,000, for re-enlisting at the outset of the Iraq war.

The Department claims it found evidence of fraud by recruitment officers and administrators of the bonuses.

The bonuses were part of a recruitment program the state’s National Guard implemented in order to fill the manpower needs the Pentagon had expected from California when the U.S. went to war in 2003. Recipients of the bonuses – many of whom had refinanced their homes, purchased automobiles, and taken on numerous financial liabilities in the intervening years – have been threatened by the government with legal action. Some already have been summoned to court, imposing additional legal costs on them.

“In a government known for occasional bureaucratic blunders, wrongheadedness, and even mean-spiritedness,” said Rohrabacher, “this is in a class by itself. It is an unconscionable, unfeeling effort by a government that already has failed those of our heroes who need medical attention from the Veterans Administration. It is simply monstrous that the Obama administration is allowing this unimaginable, but apparently deliberate, mistreatment to continue.”

The congressman, along with several House colleagues, has co-signed a letter from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter demanding redress of the situation. “If needed,” he said, “I will introduce legislation that will stop this unforgivable action taken against our veterans. The Pentagon must act promptly – now, before Congress returns from recess – to correct the colossal, malign action it launched, apologize, and make whole these exemplary Americans it has made miserable.”

The text of the McCarthy letter:


The Honorable Ashton B. Carter

U.S. Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1000


Dear Secretary Carter:

We write to you with grave concern regarding Department of Defense efforts to recover decade-old reenlistment bonuses paid to thousands of California Army National Guard soldiers. We are dismayed that our men and women who answered their country’s call to duty are now being forced to repay what was promised to them in exchange for their honorable service. Some have faced the threat of wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse. This is no way to treat those who have fulfilled their commitments to their country. They should be held harmless in light of the fraud that was perpetrated upon them by overzealous recruiters.

On October 22, 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that nearly 10,000 soldiers in the California National Guard have been ordered to repay enlistment bonuses of $15,000 or more. Many of these individuals served multiple combat tours. Wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veteran and former Army Captain Christopher Van Meter was asked to repay a $25,000 reenlistment bonus. Army Sergeant Robert Richmond, who suffered permanent injuries in Iraq due to a roadside bomb attack, was asked to repay his $15,000 reenlistment bonus. These are just two examples of the burden that our brave men and women are being asked to bear. It is unjust and this wrong must be righted.

We request that further attempts to retrieve outstanding debt be halted. We are also requesting a comprehensive briefing by the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau, specifically focused on what authorities the Department of Defense currently possesses to waive the repayment of these debts as well as a full accounting as to the scope of this issue nation-wide. We look forward to an immediate response. Thank you for your time and attention to this critical issue.




Kenneth Grubbs

Communications Director

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Forty-eighth District, California