In October, I reported that thousands of California soldiers in the National Guard soldiers were being forced to repay over-paid enlistment bonuses and student loans. Many of these brave men and women were struggling financially to meet the repayment terms.

Shortly after the Department of Defense took a substantial P.R. hit once the details behind this travesty became widely known, Secretary Ash Carter announced he was suspending this program.

Lawmakers have formally hammered out a compromise agreement that allows the Pentagon to forgive bonuses and benefits that were improperly awarded.

The agreement, included in a defense bill due to be voted on by the House on Friday and the Senate next week, seeks to strike a balance between the Pentagon’s concerns about fraud in the bonus system and lawmakers’ attempts to resolve a scandal that has hurt thousands of military veterans and sparked a public furor.

The compromise calls on the Pentagon to forgive the enlistment bonuses and student loan benefits unless the soldier who received the money “knew or reasonably should have known” that he or she was ineligible for it.

The provision stops short of requiring the Pentagon to forgive debts owed by all California Guard soldiers as long as they fulfilled the terms of their enlistment contracts and did not commit fraud — a far more sweeping waiver that members of the California delegation had proposed.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers from the state of California are pleased with the terms.

“This largely meets the needs of the soldiers who accepted their bonuses in good faith, as the vast majority of them did,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat. “It should give these soldiers peace of mind during the holidays that the Pentagon won’t claw them back.”

“This is an important fix that ultimately does the right thing,” added Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican.

Perhaps Donald Trump’s announcement that retired Marine General James Mattis is his pick for Secretary of Defense may have something to do with this final compromise.

After all, the military won’t need the extra money to fund transgender training sessions and battle-ready climate change measures.

I would like to share this Mattis quote: “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”

Hopefully, this nation’s bureaucrats will no longer wage a fiscal war on our military personnel.


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