Pentagon says its on track to meet deadline to pay back recouped CA Guard bonuses, forgive more

Peter Levine, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness speaks during a Pentagon Press briefing on January 3, 2017. (Department of Defense)

The Pentagon announced it will repay millions of dollars in California Army National Guard bonuses that were improperly recouped from veterans and eliminate the debts of more than 17,000 troops who had were told they were required to repay.

During a Pentagon Press briefing Tuesday morning, Peter Levine, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Peter Levine, said “the bottom line is we have about 17,500 Califonia National Guard Soldiers who are facing potential recoupment…the vast majority of those 17,500 cases we will be able to screen out and forgive debts or forgo debt collection without the need for more detailed review by the BCMR.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered a review in October after the LA Times published the news that thousands of current and former California guardsmen were being asked to repay their enlistment bonuses.

A 2010 audit by the National discovered that 9,700 veterans who received reenlistment bonuses in 2006-07 were retroactively denied for the program.  The Pentagon demanded the money back after the audit revealed over payments by the California Guard under pressure to fill ranks and hit enlistment goals.

Carter gave the Defense Department the deadline of Jan. 1 to formulate a plan to resolve the cases of 17,500 service members who received their bonuses between 2004 and 2010.

According to Levine, service members will begin receiving notifications that their debts have been forgiven over the period of the next month.

“We believe we can complete cases before the July deadline,” he said.

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