REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ SENDS LETTER TO SECRETARY CARTER REQUESTING THE PENTAGON TO HALT BONUS COLLECTION FROM CALIFORNIA SOLDIERS

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, released the following statement after sending a letter to Secretary Carter requesting that the Pentagon halt bonus collection from California soldiers. This letter is following the news that California soldiers and veterans are being forced to repay their enlistment bonus and student loans.

“Soldiers in California should not be held responsible for the government’s lack of oversight. They did their job and it is time for us to do ours” wrote Rep. Sanchez. “Continuing to require soldiers to pay back these debts is unconscionable and an injustice to California veterans.”

“We strongly urge the Department of Defense to immediately cease collecting these incentives and bonuses and to work with Congress to ensure the right laws and policies are in place to protect California National Guard soldiers from being forced to pay back bonuses that were received by no fault of their own”

The full text of the letter to Secretary Carter is below:

October 24, 2016

 

The Honorable Ash Carter

U.S. Secretary of Defense

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1400

 

Dear Secretary Carter,

 

As a senior member of the House Committee on Armed Services, I am deeply concerned that the Department of Defense is demanding an estimate of 10,000 soldiers pay back their enlistment bonuses and student loan repayments.

These enlistment bonuses and student loan repayments were created as incentives to ensure our country was able to recruit the necessary manpower to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Promises were made when these men and women signed up to sacrifice their lives to defend and protect this country, and we have the moral responsibility to keep them.

Soldiers in California should not be held responsible for the government’s lack of oversight.  They did their job and it is time for us to do ours.  Currently, California has one of the largest National Guards in the country and is responsible for the largest veteran population.  As you know, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars continue to struggle with health conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), challenges of transitioning back into civilian life and homelessness.  Continuing to require soldiers to pay back these debts is unconscionable and an injustice to California veterans

We strongly urge the Department of Defense to immediately cease collecting these incentives and bonuses and to work with Congress to ensure the right laws and policies are in place in order to protect California National Guard soldiers from being forced to pay back bonuses that were received by no fault of their own.  This is a disservice to all the service members and their families who have served this country valiantly.

Sincerely,

______________________________

Loretta Sanchez

Member of Congress