pentagon-loses-trillions

Pentagon Loses Trillions but Makes Veterans Pay Back Promised Bonuses!

When the Pentagon loses trillions of dollars they only get more money but then they fine veterans for bonuses they were given.

When I write that the Pentagon loses trillions, I am in no way exaggerating! The Pentagon hasn’t passed a legal audit in well over a decade. Local politicians have been jailed for a lot less.

But when the troops are “overpaid,” they get shaken down even though it was never their fault and the mistake was made many years in the past.

From the L.A. Times,

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

But soldiers say the military is reneging on 10-year-old agreements and imposing severe financial hardship on veterans whose only mistake was to accept bonuses offered when the Pentagon needed to fill the ranks.

The officers who filed the bad paperwork and gave unauthorized bonuses have been jailed. But the veterans who are now being threatened with liens and interest fines if they don’t pay back tens of thousands of dollars they spent years ago did not participate in any fraud. They agreed to stay and fight our bloody wars in exchange for those financial incentives.

Is the Pentagon going to undo the wounds and deaths that were suffered in exchange for those bonuses? This is entirely perverse!

Notice that nothing is done when the Pentagon loses trillions but they are free to harass and plunder our troops for thousands. The corruption of the powerful gets a pass while the grunts get looted by them.

These perverse priorities are also behind the Veterans Affairs corruption scandal that our politicians are doing almost nothing about. It’s a big reason many support Donald Trump.

The same mindset showed up in the proposed Paul Ryan budget in 2013, cutting the pensions of disabled veterans. Ryan’s response? “We just freed up $6 billion for readiness.”

The Pentagon gets away with this because their attitude reflects the prevailing priorities of Washington, DC’s political culture. That attitude is recognized by a substantial number of voters. Their anger is precisely why Donald Trump is the GOP’s unwelcome nominee.

Here’s one example of the results of those priorities from the L.A. Times story,

Robert Richmond, an Army sergeant first class then living in Huntington Beach, said he reenlisted after being told he qualified for a $15,000 bonus as a special forces soldier.

The money gave him “breathing room,” said Richmond, who had gone through a divorce after a deployment to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003. 

In 2007, his special forces company was sent to the Iraqi town of Hillah, 60 miles south of Baghdad in an area known as the “Triangle of Death” because of the intense fighting. 

Richmond conducted hundreds of missions against insurgents over the next year. In one, a roadside bomb exploded by his vehicle, knocking him out and leaving him with permanent back and brain injuries.

He was stunned to receive a letter from California Guard headquarters in 2014 telling him to repay the $15,000 and warning he faced “debt collection action” if he failed to comply.

He is now being charged over $19,000 for interest. He had to quit the National Guard to avoid getting his paycheck taken away.

Good thing he’s not suicidal because, if he called the hotline, he might get sent to voicemail. Priorities, again.

Click here to hear another veteran, Robert D’Andrea, tell his story to the L.A. Times.

In the meantime, others get bailed out. We live under an evil oligarchy.

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Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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