Thank you for contacting me regarding enlistment bonuses given to some members of the California National Guard several years ago. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this issue.
As you may know, the California National Guard offered bonuses to soldiers who re-enlisted to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time, the California National Guard approved the bonuses quickly, and an audit prompted by a related criminal investigation discovered that the California National Guard had given these cash incentives to thousands of soldiers improperly. In 2012, many California National Guardsmen who were ineligible for the bonuses they received began receiving collection notices from the Department of Defense (DoD) requiring them to repay these bonuses. However, most of the soldiers had taken the bonuses in good faith and were unaware of the mistake until notices arrived in the mail years later. Repaying these debts caused financial strain for many veterans and their families. In response, Secretary Carter announced on October 26, 2016 that DoD had suspended all efforts to collect reimbursement from the affected California National Guardsmen.
I am pleased DoD suspended efforts to collect on the bonuses the California National Guard improperly awarded and share your concern that we must support our nation's veterans in any way possible. We owe them a debt of gratitude that we may never be able to repay. Because my father served in the military for thirty-one years, I grew up around men and women dedicated to protecting our country, and I strongly believe that the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform must not be forgotten when they return to civilian life.
I appreciate having the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
United States Senator
The service personnel owed no "debt." My Response to the Senator's email:
Thanks for your reply. Now it is imperative that all payments and the costs associated with making those payments are now returned to the service personnel.
The service personnel signed a contract with the California Guard. It is not their obligation to check on the legality of the California Guard's authority to conduct the transaction. They trusted their government, as all citizens are encouraged to do.
The California Guard defaulted in their contract with the service personnel. The service personnel had no obligation to check into the offers made by senior officers, and performed as agreed. The California Guard is liable. The choice is simple: either pay back the money and costs associated with returning duly earned funds, or prepare to be sued for breach of contract and damages.
If I was the judge, it would be an extremely short trial.