Washington November 30, 2016 – Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Representative Adam Schiff (all D-Calif.) announced that a measure was included in the National Defense Authorization Act to permanently halt efforts to claw back reenlistment bonuses and benefits paid to California National Guard soldiers a decade ago.
This provision mirrors legislation that the members of Congress introduced earlier in this month to require the Pentagon to suspend all collection efforts and establish a streamlined process to provide financial relief for affected service members.
“The goal was to make it clear that California National Guard soldiers won’t be forced to unfairly repay bonuses promised for their service a decade ago and this bill accomplishes that,” said Senator Feinstein. “The language in the NDAA will ensure that the commitments made by Secretary Carter will be honored by the next administration, any money already repaid will be given back and that the Pentagon will help soldiers who face financial hardship fully recover from this ordeal.”
“This is an important step toward protecting service members and their families from being held responsible for the mistakes and illegal actions of others,” Senator Boxer said.
“With only a few days left before Congress leaves town for the rest of the year, the defense authorization bill introduced will ensure that those National Guard soldiers who were required to pay back bonuses and benefits they received in good faith are not the subject of clawbacks both now or in the future,” said Rep. Schiff. “This legislation, which mirrors the bill I introduced with Senators Feinstein and Boxer and which I worked on as a conferee on the NDAA, will provide relief to soldiers who accepted a bonus or incentive in good faith. I hope that we can move quickly to provide this well-deserved relief so we can help provide peace of mind for our service members and their families during this holiday season.”
According to the Pentagon, almost 10,000 members of the Army National Guard may have received improper benefits from 2004 to 2010.
The language in the NDAA prevents the Army from recouping those funds from any service members who unknowingly received them during that time period. It also requires the Army to reimburse any soldier who has already repaid the government and to notify credit agencies that any debt previously reported was invalid.
The bill would not cover National Guard members who engaged in fraud or misrepresentation. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill in the coming days.