Patterico's Pontifications

10/23/2016

Government Screws Up, Makes Soldiers Pay For It. Literally.

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:30 am



[guest post by Dana]

The military screws up and makes soldiers pay for their mistakes, which is hard to understand because debt forgiveness and bailouts by our government seems to be all the rage these days:

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

It gets worse:

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

Instead of letting this go and forgiving the debts because it was not the fault of those who believed what they were being told, the soldiers must pay back the money. And let’s face it, $15,000 – $25,000 for most Americans is not a piddly amount of money.

While the betrayal is unbelievable, the excuses made for treating veterans this way are all too believable. Gosh darn, what just a shame that everyone’s hands are tied:

“At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”

Read the whole thing. It’s infuriating to read the personal accounts of veterans who have been so worn down by the red tape process to fight this that they have resigned themselves to paying back the bonuses. It’s almost as if the system is intended to have this eventual outcome.

A White House petition has been set up here that you can sign if you are so inclined. And as always in these cases, call your congress person or representative and make some noise.

If this isn’t a travesty and fight that Americans ought to be willing to get involved with, what is?

–Dana

47 Responses to “Government Screws Up, Makes Soldiers Pay For It. Literally.”

  1. What a way to ensure that enlistment numbers go down.

    Dana (d17a61)

  2. Signed and confirmed.

    The recruiters should all be charged with fraud and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They won’t be because they were told to do it by the bosses, and that would come out.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  3. So, one sergeant has gone to jail. It’s hard to believe that’s the extent of it.

    And one guy files a class action suit and the military “waives” his debt, then moves to dismiss (they must have Trump as their lawyer). But somehow their hands are tied in waiving anyone else’s debt?

    What crap!

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  4. Electing more Democrats is the obvious answer to this bureaucratic screw-up.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  5. That’s a win-win for democrats. They get to piss away tax money AND throw our troops in debt or jail. Wow! There is a democrat Santa and he’s non-denominational.

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

  6. oddly, we have the money to import, “vet”, support and educate scores of America hating moslems but not one red cent for the troops. Maybe when Killary gets in she can get back their battlefield pay too.

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

  7. Suckers.

    Send the bills to former Republican President George W. Bush, Vice President ‘Big Dick’ Cheney and Sec. of Defense Rummy the Dummy Rumsfeld, whose nests and pensions are well-feathered and funded from their war.

    “Look, if you don’t want me in your Army, kick me out, but get off my back.” – John Winger [Bill Murray] ‘Stripes’ 1981

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  8. I can’t even fathom the attitude behind this notion, the soldiers did nothing wrong, they were not deceiving anyone, the feckless caligula’s horse that is ashton carter is enabling this,

    narciso (d1f714)

  9. In the world of democrats years of investigations for corruption, being caught lying about the deaths of four Americans that was facilitated by you and deliberately seeking to harm innocent victims of your husbands perversions get you The White house. Fighting for America, not so much. The soldiers too are Deplorables.

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

  10. I’m not clear on this, but wasn’t it the state of California that screwed up?

    Sammy Finkelman (643dcd)

  11. This is happening under a Democrat regime.
    So naturally the answer is, “more Democrats!”

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  12. recall how they have strived to avoid votes from veterans to be counted in 2008 and 2012, and how their mouthpieces like votevets, worked mightily to prevent the awareness of the va malpractice,

    narciso (d1f714)

  13. This is from the people who brought you Cash For Clunkers.

    AZ Bob (f7a491)

  14. Gee, I can’t imagine why the Democratic run federal government is trying to squeeze blood out of a bunch of people who served their country rather than the out of collection of (also Democratic) scum in Sacramento who caused this problem in the first place. If Dante is right, these SOBs are likely to find themselves frozen up to their eyeballs in the afterlife.

    M. Scott Eiland (046eb0)

  15. So, on top of this, plus the VA, suppose the troops find that, say, 100,000 military votes went in the shredder while Hillary won by a whisker….
    I see the general thinks he’s not supposed to break the law. What century is he living in?

    Richard Aubrey (472a6f)

  16. The illegal recruiting happened under Bush. And the conspiracy surely went higher than a non-commissioned officer. When you are dealing with 20,000 of anything (recruits in this case), tens of thousands for those “things” ($10,000 plus for recruiting bonuses) add up quickly, even in government budgets, and they cannot be “overlooked”. Given that this must have gone higher, these contracts should be honored. It might mean prison time for some very senior administration officials from the Bush era. Which would be fine with me.

    Which brings us to today’s administration. Their position on this is exactly like the $100,000 fine for the bakers. They have the power, and they are going to us it to punish their enemies. And service personnel are traditional enemies, witness all the voter fraud (denial by means of intentional mishandling of ballots) that is perpetrated on overseas troops by Democrats, even Democrats in uniform, nationwide. Better yet, with 10,000 victims, they can collect tens of millions of dollars which can be used to shore up and possibly hide some other misuse of funds.

    The bigger point, which is totally overlooked, is how the war in Iraq and Afghanistan were and probably still are, fought with a lot of National Guard troops. About the time Obama was first elected, one of the Dad’s of a player on my team was in his fourth (involuntary) deployment to Iraq in five years. He was in the Washington National Guard, and he certainly didn’t imagine that this was going to be his future when he joined up. He had a family with four kids, and the marriage collapsed during the fourth deployment.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  17. With the national debt at $20 trillion and unfunded liabilities at some multiple of that, at some point we’re all going to have to face the fact that the government has made promises they cannot posssibly keep. Admit it – the government stole from these guys and the only way to hold them to the promises they made is to steal the money from our children and our children’s children. Sooner or later it’s coming to us all, I just don’t think it’s very smart to start defaulting on the promises with a group of people you’ve trained to kill. Maybe start with the sick and the old under Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid before you sstart in on the vets.

    Jerryskids (16a4d5)

  18. 17.The illegal recruiting happened under Bush. And the conspiracy surely went higher than a non-commissioned officer.

    I have no idea what Bush would have to do with “illegal recruiting” as you called it done by the state of California and the California National Guard. Would you please explain his involvement and exactly how he perpetrated this “illegal” act in only one state?

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

  19. The Barack Administration would never ask people on the federal dole to pay back money they were “overpaid.”

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  20. Shays Rebellion and the 1932 Veterans March were responses to absence of payment, not forced repayment of a debt. If despise to this was proportionate it would be a coup in Sacto, DC or both.

    urbanleftbehind (9e8d55)

  21. Hoagie, without an investigation, a real investigation, we will never know how high this reached. But National Guard troops are used to support our overseas deployments, and this makes it a national, not a state issue. Both the need for the troops and the difficulty recruiting them are linked to their use overseas. And the National Guard is funded by Congress, not by the states, so the accountability surely involves DoD oversight.

    And the recruiting was illegal, since the officials running the campaign were offering bonuses that weren’t authorized. But the recruiters, and especially the recruits, should not bear the blame. The authorities responsible can be found on an organization chart at some level. But this level is far beyond budgets that are itemized and managed by non-coms. Which is to say that [i]t might mean prison time for some very senior administration officials from the Bush era. Some one, somewhere, had to look at an account of expenditures for the California National Guard and see that an item that was budgeted for $20 million had exploded to $200 million, and that same some one had to find the funds to cover the outlay. If he allowed 20,000 recruitment contracts to be signed by lower level officials, then he’s the guy who needs to be prosecuted. And the contracts must be honored.

    I am not suggesting that Bush knew anything about this. But if National Guards are offering $20,000 enlistment bonuses, I would hope that he at least knew how difficult it was to find the troops to fight this war. I had also hoped that he would use is Bully Pulpit to strengthen public support for the war, but he ducked this one too.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  22. Just a reminder that California gives Obamacare and welfare to illegals. Hillary wants to expand both programs, but those who serve and are maimed in the line of duty, screw email.

    That’s how you feel if you vote Democrat.

    NJRob (710f8d)

  23. Screw em*

    NJRob (710f8d)

  24. The Barack Administration would never ask people on the federal dole to pay back money they were “overpaid.”

    I thought this too. But a year ago I reached 70 and began receiving SS payments. In February of this year, the monthly auto-deposit was reduced due to an increase in the Medicare deduction. In May of this year, $45.03 disappeared from my bank account. I finally figured out that they decided the revised amount should have been deducted beginning in January, and instead of deducting the amount from the next payment, they went right to my bank and took the money without any notification to me.

    I expect most of their “clients” don’t balance their checkbooks, and so this practice goes largely unnoticed. I have resolved to keep my balance in that account at a rather nominal level. Who knows what the government might decide to take in the future.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  25. But in being that this occurred California how many of those receiving the bonuses are harboring illegals or are themselves 86ers, the beneficiaries of Simpson-Mazzoli? This could be a double whammy of bad optics if this was concentrated in a few units along the El Monte Fwy or Fresno-Madera.

    urbanleftbehind (9e8d55)

  26. “At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”

    We’d be breaking the law.

    You all know what’s coming next: you mean like Hillary Clinton???

    If she wasn’t prosecuted for knowingly breaking the law, then why should anyone else?

    J.P. (78aaf7)

  27. really it’s been eight years into this administration, that they notice this now, but note how votevet not only covered up the va scandal, but then yelled squirrel to the senators,

    narciso (d1f714)

  28. I guess they will try to blame schwartzenegger, but it’s their policy which is under review, now this was exactly what the mouth of the flint, suggested in ‘when can we trust them again’ but he’s silent like a basenghi, of course, they were fighting ‘the equivalent of freedom fighter’
    the hardier ones became commanders in islamic state,

    narciso (d1f714)

  29. For those who think SS is sacrosanct, this should be a lesson. In my experience, I have found my payment to be reduced to cover a Medicare “contribution” that is mandatory, and when they overpay me, which I expect to occur annually, they just take it from my bank account without notice. And then there’s the income tax that I pay on 85% of the amount, which amounts to about a quarter of the total.

    I can see a day when they decide everyone who has any other means of support in their old age should not have received SS in the first place, and that they owe the amount paid to them in the interim. They do this with those who receive Medicaid, and I can see no reason not to do the same to any minority of voter recipients who might fit their new rule. As long as the cretins we elect to Congress get re-elected, anything is possible.

    The British used to Impress seamen during the Napoleonic Wars. Basically, they’d send a gang through a seaport’s the entertainment district late at night, and anyone who couldn’t outrun them was bludgeoned and dragged back to the ship to become a seaman. It was a little more complicated than that, there were some legalities to be observed once the man awoke, if he awoke, but that was the idea. Now our government is suggesting that it has the right to recruit soldiers with phony payments, and can reclaim those payments when it is convenient should the soldier survive his enlistment. The British system was a good deal more transparent. And it did less damage to concept of the Rule of Law and the notion that the government’s powers are derived from the people. In this new world, the government can make a contract and then renege on the provisions with no consequence, all costs including responsibility for fulfillment of the contract being borne by the citizen.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  30. BobStewart, be aware that the last SS payment sent to you will be taken back, although you won’t be around to know it.

    SS payments are made at the start of the month, on the presumption that you will live the full month. But if you aren’t alive at the end of the month, you shouldn’t have received the payment, so they take it back. It does not matter if you died on the first or last day of the month.

    Kishnevi (15a549)

  31. I can’t even fathom the attitude behind this notion, the soldiers did nothing wrong, they were not deceiving anyone, the feckless caligula’s horse that is ashton carter is enabling this,

    narciso (d1f714) — 10/23/2016 @ 11:54 am

    Oh, I can understand it. I’ve lived the “You’re right, sir, we screwed up. Now you have a problem” life.

    I actually had a petty officer at PSD (personnel support detachment) tell me that when they screwed up my pay records so badly that the Navy stopped paying me. Unfortunately for him he was fooled by the single silver LT j.g. bars on my collar and didn’t realize my dad was a Senior Chief. I knew exactly who to talk to get his attitude adjusted.

    The factors behind the “we screwed up, now you have a problem” attitude are several. laziness and not caring are the two most common. It makes their lives easier not to care. When that petty officer said that to me it was close to 1600 on a Friday. Why should he work late and cut into his drinking time by fixing the problem that was PSD’s fault, not mine? After all, it wasn’t a problem for him (until I was able to make it a problem for him, which he did not suspect me of being able to do).

    Another factor is CYA. You can bet there are officials in the Kali National Guard and at the Pentagon in the National Guard Bureau who knew exactly what was going on and in fact stretched the rules to make it happen. The easiest way to divert attention away from themselves is to go after the lowest level in the chain of command who can take the blame. in this case, the Guardsmen who accepted the bonuses.

    Another factor that’s related to the desire to cover their @$$es now is, believe it or not, self-aggrandizement. I would bet my last dollar that someone was getting career enhancing awards or commendations by meeting or exceeding their recruiting goals back when they were “stretching the rules” breaking law approving these bonuses when they knew the people they were recruiting didn’t really qualify for them.

    Anybody who’s ever been in knows one of the most common statements you’ll hear is, “My recruiter lied to me.” And recruiters lie all the time, and they get away with it, too. Having worked in recruiting for a few months, as there was several months-long backlog in the training pipeline after I graduated from AOCS and the Navy had to do something with me so they sent me back to my home town to work in a recruiting office, I understand why they lie. There’s tremendous pressure on the recruiters to meet and exceed quotas. It’s put on them by the @$$ covering higher ups I mentioned earlier who at the time wanted to put themselves in for self-aggrandizing, career enhancing awards and commendations. So if the recruiters don’t help them get those awards and commendations, those recruiters will get career-ruining Fitness Reports or Evaluations. On the other hand if those recruiters do put their higher-ups over the top and exceed quotas, no awardsfor them, just a decent FITREP or Eval.

    One of the most common lies they told in my day when they needed to put a warm body in the win column is that the important thing is just to get to OCS or AOCS even if there were no slots for you in your first or second or even third choice. For instance, say you wanted to go AOCS to become either a pilot or a naval flight officer but the Navy wasn’t accepting anymore candidates for those positions. The recruiter might have told you if you just get to Pensacola as an Aviation Maintenance Duty Officer, even if you don’t want to be an AMDO, you can just transfer over to one of your preferred choices at AOCS. After all it has a high attrition rate.

    No, you couldn’t then and you can’t now. You have to go before a redesignation board after you graduate, and it’s not at all as easy as your recruiter told you. The thing is, everyone knows the recruiters are lying to recruits. No one doubts it. But they’ll simply ask you, “Did you get your recruiter’s promises in writing?” Because if it’s not in writing it didn’t happen.

    The article in question mentions the pressure the Guard recruiters were under to meet their goals. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the same people putting pressure on them then are the same people now persecuting people who believed what they were they were told and believed they were qualified to get the bonuses.

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone, civilian or uniformed, at the Kali National Guard or the National Guard Bureau didn’t see some sort of award or commendation in screwing over the troops to get that money back. This persecution affects approximately 10 Guardsmen. We could be talking as much as $150M in “waste, fraud and abuse” but I doubt it’s that much as apparently the vast majority of of bonuses were for less than $10K. That’s not even a rounding error where the real waste, fraud and abuse an be found. Such as in the Navy’s procurement programs. Ladies and gentlemen, I give the the Little Crappy Ship (LCS) and the F-35.

    Those people are untouchable, though. You see a very similar process to the “we screwed up, now you have a problem” kabuki theater. Starting with people like Sen. John McCain, whom I can’t stand. He’ll demand to know why during his entire time on the Senate Armed Services Committee the DoN has never had a procurement program come in on time and under or at the projected budget from people who had nothing to do with it. Because the list of people who had something to do with it starts with the name John McCain. After all, as the self-unaware SOB admits, he was on the Senate Armed Services Committee all that time. Why didn’t he provide proper oversight? Why did he approve the appointments of the flag officers who were theoretically in charge of bringing those programs on time and on budget? Why weren’t any of them fired? Like I said the list of people responsible for the Navy’s procurement fiasco starts with John McCain and then proceeds down through all those flag officers he approved of who allowed those programs to spin out of control, many of whom then went on to very high paying careers with defense contractors. An obvious conflict of interest as a lot of those defense contractors were the same ones milking the public teat on the programs they supposedly supervised and controlled.

    Since nothing is going to happen to the real criminals, if you work at DoD and you want to have a bullet for your performance evaluation, it’s much easier to go after the troops who are powerless and not connected and brag how you recouped $100 million or so fighting waste, fraud and abuse. Why not? I’ve seen the DoD do similar things, such as try to save money at the expense of the troops. When I was stationed in Japan the exchange rate went from 120Yen/$ to 75Yen/$. And what did DoD do? They cut our COLA. Because, they said, since all the sevicemembers stationed in Japan weren’t spending as much money off base as we used to, because we couldn’t afford it, we obviously didn’t need such a large cost of living allowance. They had a very self-serving formula to calculate our COLA and it was totally unrelated to the cost of living in a foreign country. When the COLA was inadequate to cover the cost of living in a foreign country as the exchange rate went into the toilet, they cut the COLA as we spent less. I’m sure the bean counter at DoD who came up with that formula got all sorts of commendations and promotions for his money saving ideas.

    What the bean counters didn’t count on was there were quite a few flag and general officers stationed in Japan. Since their pay was getting cut too they raised a stink that went up through CINCPAC through the JCS and came crashing down on their heads. They changed their formula to conform to reality and the actual literal meaning of the term “cost of living allowance.”

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  32. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”

    Yet when one guy sued as lead plaintiff of a class action suit, the absolved HIS debt, and moved to dismiss the class since it was missing a lead plaintiff.

    Funny how this wasn’t “breaking the law” when it served THEIR intere3sts.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  33. well they just discovered this now, this is how ‘term limit’ scenarios come into being,

    narciso (d1f714)

  34. . I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the same people putting pressure on them then are the same people now persecuting people who believed what they were they were told and believed they were qualified to get the bonuses.

    More likely they went on to work for Wells Fargo.

    Kishnevi (15a549)

  35. *affects approximately 10000 Guardsmen

    Geez.

    Also, this seems to be a very Kali thing to do.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/05/business/la-fi-calif-tax-takeback-20130206

    SACRAMENTO — For almost two decades, California has provided a hefty tax break for residents owning shares of small businesses that keep most of their workers and assets in the state.

    Not anymore. A court has thrown out the incentive, and now, to the frustration and anger of about 2,000 taxpayers, the state tax collector wants the money back, plus interest.

    The Franchise Tax Board is going after four years’ worth of these tax breaks. It recalculated the back taxes of people who benefited and mailed out a holiday surprise.

    “It’s a surreal situation,” said Brian Overstreet of Healdsburg in the Sonoma County wine country. He said investors learned they owed taxes only in late December when the board sent out letters telling them the so-called qualified small-business capital gains tax incentive had been deemed unconstitutional.

    …Tax officials argue that the court’s finding gave them no choice but to demand retroactive taxes.

    “If the statute is invalid, it can’t be enforced,” said board spokeswoman Denise Azimi. “To cure discrimination we have to treat all taxpayers alike.”

    No, actually to remain within the law and the Constitution all they had to do was eliminate the tax break going forward. The taxpayers who got the break aren’t responsible for the legislature’s unconstitutional actions.

    You’d have to demented to open a business in Kali. They have to bribe you to do it, and they can’t figure out a legal way to do it.

    I recall how one year Kali was so broke it couldn’t pay its contractors or suppliers. So Kali sent them IOUs. Then demanded they pay taxes for the theoretical value of those IOUs in actual cash. The cash the suppliers and contractors never got.

    It’s like Kali wants to commit suicide.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  36. The message I get from this story is that Austrian courts suck. But then compare it to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennedy_v._Louisiana.

    nk (dbc370)

  37. Wrong thread.

    nk (dbc370)

  38. no, the uk is doing the same to it’s own soldiers, re bogus iraq war crimes claims, some of this same pattern has recurred in germany and sweden, the camps in calais, are just inviting this sort of behavior,

    narciso (d1f714)

  39. and they are rerunning the elections overthere, because this sort of sentiment originally prevailed,

    narciso (d1f714)

  40. And you want hillary to be president?

    Jim (a9b7c7)

  41. Ugh.

    Absent fraud, it’s obnoxious to demand that *anyone* repay a payment they were erroneously given more than a decade ago – and it’s even worse when the recipient was induced to enlist by the money being demanded now.

    I think there’s a good argument that any soldier who *unknowingly* accepted these payments and then enlisted based on the payments has performed their side of the bargain they believed themselves to have made, and that *morally* the US government is required to honor the bargain as the soldier understood it at the time.

    > Instead of forgiving the improper bonuses, the California Guard assigned 42 auditors to comb through paperwork for bonuses and other incentive payments given to 14,000 soldiers, a process that was finally completed last month.

    As a policy matter, unless the Guard can point to some legal requirement that says they have to do this, they made the wrong decision. They should have forgiven any overpayments and moved on.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  42. @46, shortly after the glaciers receded and the Neanderthals and the Woolly Mammoth went extinct I joined the Navy. Or, 1987. In those days everything was done by paper; nothing was computerized. I don’t know anybody who had to deal with the Disbursing Clerks at the ironically named Personnel Support Detachment (PSD) who doesn’t have a similar story, only on a much lesser scale. They’d screw up your pay, and their mistakes were always your problem. Not theirs.

    I only one guy who had an overpayment forgiven. He submitted a travel claim and they cut him a check. He suspected the reimbursement was too large, so he asked the disbursing clerk if he was sure the check was for the correct amount. The disbursing clerk told him he was sure. This acquaintance of mine said if he was so sure, he wanted it in writing. The clerk put it in writing that the amount was correct and signed the piece of paper.

    When Sailors got overpayed on a travel claim the Navy always treated them like criminals, even though the mistake wasn’t theirs. So they came after him and demanded repayment. He went down to PSD and showed the guy’s supervisor the signed piece of paper. The supervisor said “thank you very much, we won’t be bothering you about this matter anymore.” Instead they made the clerk pay the money back.

    Unfortunately disbursing clerks who were naive enough to put anything in writing that made them potentially liable for their own mistakes were few and far between.

    I would say in the absence of any evidence of deliberate fraud, any bonus that was either too large or even wholly undeserved must be forgiven. And I would say that if they showed up on time, in uniform, with a haircut, and made their deployment(s) that is an airtight defense against the possibility of fraud on their part.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)


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