SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Los Angeles Times reports the Pentagon demanded the money back after audits revealed overpayments by the California Guard eager to fill ranks and hit enlistment targets.
Faced with a shortage of troops at the height of the two wars, California Guard officials offered bonuses of $15,000 or more.
Soldiers say they feel betrayed at having to repay the money.
“At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard, told the LA Times. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”
One former Army Captain says he refinanced his home mortgage to pay back his $25,000 reenlistment bonus.
The California Guard says it has to follow the law and collect the money.