Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kick them when they're down

"A bill in the mail is not the kind of present our soldiers deserve in this season. Our veterans are not being treated with the dignity, respect and thanks that they deserve. It's just a disgrace," stated Charles Schumer D-NY.

At a news conference this past Sunday, Schumer stated that despite a report this past July that a presidential commission claimed the policy was no longer in effect, he found that it was. That policy unfairly penalized wounded veterans by requiring enlistees to fufill their entire term of service or lose a pro-rated portion of their bonus. Schumer stated that the policy was an example of military policy gone wrong. The Pentagon is still demanding that soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afganistan after receiving a $10,000 enlistment bonus repay portions of that incentive money.

Schumer cited the case of Jordan Fox, an Army sniper from Mt Lebanon PA, who was partially blinded by a roadside bomb in Iraq. The Pentagon had demanded that he repay $2,800 of his bonus but it wasn't until his case was called to attention that the Pentagon claimed it was a "clerical error" and canceled the debt. Schumer stated that Fox's case was not an isolated incident as hundreds of soldiers have received similar letters of demand. He added that when you talk to the Pentagon, you get different answers from different people.

"Asking wounded service members to repay part of their enlistment bonuses is an outrage," stated IAVA executive director Paul Rieckhoff.

Schumer called for the Department of Defense to do a thorough audit to identify those service members who have been sent letters of demand and notify them that the debt isn't due. Rieckhoff had stated that the IAVA was very willing to work with Congress to put an end to the practice of demanding repayment.

Schumer, who recently took a stand on demanding more be done to help homeless veterans, has stated that he will back legislation that has been recently proposed. That legislation is to be called the Veterans Guarenteed Bonus Act, that would require full payment of bonuses to enlistees within 30 days of discharge from the service due to combat related injuries.

With an administration that has done all that it can to increase the numbers and prolong the tours they serve overseas, it is difficult how they can treat those troops so poorly. I do feel that it is an outrage to even think of demanding part of an enlstment bonus be returned after they are injured serving our country.

For a related post, go here.

No comments: