Pentagon

Reversing course: Bulk of California National Guardsmen will keep bonuses, officials say

Anita Vogel reports from Los Angeles

 

Pentagon officials say that the bulk of the California National Guardsmen who were erroneously awarded bonuses for their service will be allowed to keep the payments.

Peter Levine, the acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness, said Tuesday that “a few hundred” of the roughly 17,500 California National Guardsman erroneously awarded the enlistment bonuses for their service in Iraq or Afghanistan would be required to repay them, Stars and Stripes reported.

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“If the service members fulfilled their service commitment and there’s no obvious reason to believe that they knew or should have known that it was an erroneous payment, then we don’t need further review to get rid of that case,” Levine said Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Times first reported in October that thousands of California National Guard soldiers had been ordered by the Pentagon to repay enlistment bonuses they received after a federal investigation revealed that the bonuses were erroneously given out. The soldiers received the enlistment bonuses as a result of an incentive program during the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2005 and 2010.

The revelation spurred national outrage, with multiple lawmakers demanding the Pentagon resolve the matter and allow the service members to keep the bonuses.

Soon after, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered defense officials to suspend the recoupment of bonuses and develop a process to review the cases.

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