Pentagon halts bonus repayments amid latest National Guard recruitment scandal
WASHINGTON — Amid growing public pressure, the Pentagon intervened Wednesday in the latest Army National Guard recruitment scandal by temporarily stopping the service from reclaiming wartime re-enlistment bonuses.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter halted the collection efforts and ordered a review of the service’s bonus program by January, providing some relief for 6,400 soldiers and veterans from California who may be required to repay the bonuses of $15,000 or more given out during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. An additional 3,200 troops were also flagged but their cases had not yet been processed, meaning they too could face repayment, the National Guard Bureau said Wednesday.
The Pentagon move came after days of outcry from veterans groups, criticism from leadership in Congress and a newly launched probe by a House oversight panel. It was the second time Washington has intervened in a National Guard scandal over the past year – Congress in November banned its paid patriotism tributes at sporting events -- and the latest in a string of recruitment controversies.
Carter said the Pentagon is aiming to resolve all of the California National Guard bonuses by July. The cases represent about $40-$50 million.
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