Secretary of Defense Using Smoke and Mirrors for Election?

By Curtis M. Hendel

The headline read, “Defense Secretary orders Pentagon to stop seeking repayment of California National Guard bonuses”.  So everything is peachy, right?

Saturday the first major newspaper broke the story of the California National Guardsmen that were given good bonuses to reenlist in 2006-07.  Now, a decade later, the Pentagon has decided that many of these Soldiers that received the bonuses were not eligible for various reasons, but not of the Soldier’s fault.  They accepted reenlistment bonuses, risked their lives for their country, spent years away from spouses and kids, and did their part.  They lived up to their end of the deal.

Many of these Soldiers have undergone debt collection tactics, torn up credit scores, and public humiliation as the bureaucratic dogs tracked them down.  That is the story and the press had been hitting it all week.

But now everything is cool, right?  Ashton Carter told the Pentagon to stop, so it is done, right?  To those that read the headlines only (as I am sometimes guilty of doing) or just read the first two paragraphs (me again, sometimes….) it looks as though the dogs have been put back in the kennel and all is good with the world.  Back to Donald Trump calling a waitress that sexist term “woman”.

Even if the first perception is true, all is not good in the world.  If the Pentagon was forgiving these bonuses, what about all of those that have been pinned in a corner for repayment so far?  What of those that suddenly found hard earned credit scores destroyed by the Federal Government and their witch-hunt?  Will all of these Soldiers have their credit scores fixed, repayments returned, and their sense of security given back to them?  I am betting not.

The worst part of the article is that the mission to get those bonuses back has not been stopped, it has been suspended until a better way of threatening, err, working with these National Guard criminals is developed.  So let’s translate that.  It has been suspended until after the election so that the dust will settle on this story, period.

Sadly enough, when the story leaves the headlines, few of us will follow up on it.  We will go back to our smart phone apps, social media, and what Aunt Esther is making for dinner on Sunday.  That quick, the story will disappear.

Our only hope is that something in this story will make readers look past the first two paragraphs into the meat of the story where it is clear that the collections will continue, just not any time soon.  Read on, the future of some of our county’s best and brightest depends on it.