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Thousands more Guard soldiers could see bonuses reclaimed

National Guard soldiers board a UH-60 Blackhawk during a training event at Camp Williams, Utah, on June 18, 2014.

NICOLAS A. CLOWARD/U.S. ARMY

By TRAVIS J. TRITTEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — Thousands more National Guard soldiers in California could have their wartime re-enlistment bonuses reclaimed, Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Wednesday morning.

The service has yet to process 3,200 cases in the state that could lead to efforts to claw back bonuses of $15,000 or more given out during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars about a decade ago, Lengyel said. The National Guard is already looking into the cases of 6,400 soldiers and veterans, and has started collecting money from 2,000 of those.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon was poised to make an announcement Wednesday about the effort to reclaim the bonuses, which has caused national outcry and triggered a House investigation, after Defense Secretary Ash Carter promised to resolve the issue.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama called on the Defense Department to expedite its review, but the White House said he is not backing calls for Congress to waive the debt, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The National Guard has said the bonuses were wrongly paid but its effort to reclaim them from thousands of soldiers and veterans in California and across the country has caused public outcry, including widespread criticism from Congress and veteran groups.

tritten.travis@stripes.com
Twitter: @Travis_Tritten

 

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