Pentagon: California National Guard must collect bonuses paid to soldiers

CALIFORNIA (WNCT) – In a controversial move, the Pentagon has asked the California National Guard to return bonuses given to thousands of soldiers over the year.

Almost a decade ago, the California National Guard started offering up to $15,000 in bonuses for soldiers who signed up to go to war. However, the government said those bonuses were supposed to be limited to soldiers signing up for high demand assignments.

A federal investigation found thousands of bonuses were handed out to soldiers who didn’t qualify for the program.

Some don’t feel as if it is the soldier’s duty to return the money.

“I think they took the bonus honestly believing that’s what they were authorized,” said retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Warren Finch. “To be perfectly honest I think the people that did it, promised them the bonus should pay it back.”

Others agree with Finch. Retired Navy Commander Francis McVey said by taking back the money, it could discourage others to join the forces.

“It certainly hurts the credibility going forward if we can’t depend on the promises that were made to us when we volunteered to out our life on the line,” McVey said.

The Pentagon’s request impacts almost 10,000 California National Guard soldiers. The guard said it has to follow the law, and will collect the money.

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