On October 26, 2016 Defense Secretary Ash Cater ordered the Defense Department to stop seeking repayment of enlistment bonuses that were handed out to more than 4,000 soldiers. The 4,000 soldiers that were affected by the error were asked to pay back the enlistment bonuses, plus interest, and the California National Guard is now trying to inform these soldiers that they are not liable for the mistake made by administrators and lawmakers.
These soldiers that signed up or reenlisted between 2004 and 2010 were the victims of number inflation from recruiters. Recruiters offered a $15,000 cash or student repayment bonus to soldiers that weren’t eligible. It has been revealed that the recruiters were boosting their own numbers.
Many of the 4,000 soldiers that received collection letters are unaware that they are no longer liable for paying back the debt. Carter told reporters:
“Unfortunately, more than 4,000 Soldiers with errors in their incentive packets have not had the same opportunity because the Cal Guard’s SIAC has been unable to contact them,”
The repayment pause and review is expected to last until the end of the year, according to a Pentagon spokesman. The Defense Department hopes to then have all of the waivers processed by July 1, 2017.
Any soldier that has been wrongfully sent repayment notices or have repaid their debt are encouraged to apply for a waiver. An appeal can be filed online or by calling via phone at 855-751-4087.