Thousands of Soldiers Forced to Repay Sign-Up Bonuses

Photo by Anchiy / Shutterstock.com

A decade after re-enlisting in the military to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 10,000 California National Guardsmen are being forced by the Pentagon to repay enlistment bonuses and other incentives the agency says they were not entitled to receive.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the repayment demands came after a federal investigation revealed that the California Guard overpaid bonuses in an effort to entice soldiers to re-enlist so the Guard could fill a troop shortage and reach enlistment goals. According to the Times:

Instead of forgiving the improper bonuses, the California Guard assigned 42 auditors to comb through paperwork for bonuses and other incentive payments given to 14,000 soldiers.

The audit found that roughly 9,700 veterans and current soldiers and veterans received improper bonuses.

Some soldiers are fighting the repayment demand, but the appeals process is long and there’s no guarantee of success.

If the soldiers outright refuse to repay the bonuses — most of which top $15,000 — they could be faced with significant interest charges, tax liens and wage garnishments, the Times reports.

According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon says bonus overpayments occurred in all states, but the issue is most pronounced in California, which has a whopping 17,000 National Guard soldiers. News reports have not specified whether the Pentagon is considering going after the bonus money of soldiers in other states.

Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart, was forced to repay $25,000 in re-enlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan incentives. He paid off the debt by refinancing his home mortgage. Van Meter tells the Times:

“These bonuses were used to keep people in. People like me just got screwed.”

According to The New York Times, many members of Congress are calling for a legislative fix and an immediate halt to collecting money from troops. An estimated $22 million has already been recovered as part of the bonus recoupment effort. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., says:

“It’s clear to me the vast majority of these guardsman acted in good faith. We need to take immediate action on this.”

What do you think about the Pentagon demanding soldiers repay signing bonuses? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
16 of the Most Outrageously Overpriced Products
16 of the Most Outrageously Overpriced Products

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

Never Buy These 12 Things at a Thrift Store
Never Buy These 12 Things at a Thrift Store

Sometimes a great deal is not worth it — or, even worse, is dangerous.

12 Things Everyone Should Stop Buying This Year
12 Things Everyone Should Stop Buying This Year

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance
How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance

This is the last article on understanding and shopping for car insurance that you’ll ever need.

The 14 Most Deadly Car Models
The 14 Most Deadly Car Models

These vehicles are involved in fatal accidents at least twice as often as the average car.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

The dollar store has great bargains on these purchases.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.