Monday, November 28, 2016 (Issue #3)
by Alana Branch, Veterans Affairs Editor
. . .
News broke recently via Military.com that the California National Guard had asked thousands of soldiers and veterans to pay back large portions of their enlistment bonuses that were wrongfully obtained. Either some were not entitled to these portions, or hidden errors were just found in their paperwork.
Because greedy recruiters struggled to meet their enlistment quotas as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars went on, the hefty bonuses often made for enticing tools to get anyone in the door. And for the most part, most people walking in were unqualified.
“”I was confused. It’s annoying and depressing,” the veteran said. “I’m having to pay back because I was given too much?””
Yet, they were trained well and served their country; some lost limbs, others their minds. And what do they get in return? A letter or phone call asking for that hard-earned money back.
However, California is not the only state on the list. Pentagon spokesperson Laura Ochoa even admitted that the inconvenience hits hard way outside the golden state.
A 29-year-old Army veteran and native of Waterbury, Conn., who opted for anonymity, recalled feeling like she was the only veteran going through this, then news broke. She was honorably discharged in 2014 due to PTSD, stemming from her yearlong stint in Afghanistan back in 2012. Shortly after starting her sophomore year at the University of Connecticut was when she received that letter.
“I was confused. It’s annoying and depressing,” the veteran said. “I’m having to pay back because I was given too much?”
Like most veterans, this one thought $20,000 [or more] was well deserved.
“Easily someone suffering from PTSD and having to pay up can kill him or herself. Again, it’s depressing.” She made sure to add that suicide wasn’t a thought in her head.
“It’s like a cancer patient asking for donations, then once he or she is cured, they’re asked to pay those donations back. It’s ridiculous.” The veteran is single and works for a telemarketing agency in Cheshire part-time.
“I get by. I also use the GI Bill. I send about $200 a month,” she said.
When asked if she thought that anything would be done about the situation from either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, she simply rolled her eyes and chuckled.
“Nothing but words,” she muttered. “I don’t know what’s worse. Trump’s asinine comments about PTSD or having to send this $200.”
In reference to the west coast, guard officials can’t do anything about it. Rather than wait around and linger on it, this veteran continues to live life and attend school.
“I did enough fighting. It’s about time someone fought for us [veterans] for once.”