National Commander Schmidt responds to CA Guard Bonus controversy
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter’s announcement on Wednesday that the Pentagon is suspending its program to claw back military signing bonuses is a welcome development amid a debacle that should never have happened. The hounding of nearly 10,000 California National Guard veterans to repay money that was mistakenly given for re-enlisting at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was not just ungrateful. It was poor strategy.
Imagine being a recent high school or college graduate considering career options. Your recruiter promises you a generous bonus in exchange for a few years of being told where to live, where to work and what time to wake up — while, by the way, possibly getting shot or blown up and killed. You would also be required to subject yourself to a justice system that could send you to prison for a disagreement with your boss.
Now, should you believe in the good faith and fair dealing of those promising the bonus, or should you take note of the veterans who have had to refinance their homes, take second jobs and repair ruined credit thanks to buyers’ remorse expressed by those who sent a previous generation to war? Can you confidently believe that the “bonus” isn’t really a loan, one that will require interest once the government changes its mind and decides to recoup it many years later? When that confidence in military opportunities is lost, the all-volunteer-force model fails.