Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), the Ranking Member on the House Armed Service Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, on Monday released the following statement regarding the California National Guard forcing thousands of military service members to repay enlistment bonuses issued after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I am outraged that thousands of military members are being forced by the California National Guard to repay their enlistment bonuses. The least we can do for our service-members is to honor the commitments we made to them when they put their lives on the line in service to our country. This problem was caused by widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets. Those officials and the government are at fault, it's not the service members’ responsibility to keep tabs on payroll. One of the officials responsible pleaded guilty to filing false claims and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Additionally three others pleaded guilty to fraud and have paid restitution. Our service-members must not be punished for the crimes of these individuals and the failures of many others. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am investigating this, but I urge the National Guard to immediately waive these repayments and take whatever action is needed to remove any traces of debt from the service members’ financial records.”