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California Guard: Bonus repayment issues will be fixed by mid-summer

A top leader in the California National Guard told state legislators on Monday that issues stemming from soldiers being forced to repay enlistment bonuses will be sorted out by mid-summer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, the deputy adjutant general for the California Guard, told a joint session of California's Senate and Assembly veterans affairs committees that officials are trying to locate all Guard veterans who may be carrying debt from the bonuses.

"[If] you got a bonus, and you completed your obligation, and for some reason, you weren't entitled to it, we've done everything we can to ensure that those soldiers get to keep those bonuses, and we continue to do that today," Beevers said.

Last fall, the Los Angeles Times reportedthat the Pentagon had demanded nearly 10,000 California Guard soldiers repay the bonuses they had received.

Just over 1,000 soldiers still hold debt due to the bonus recoupment effort, according to Beevers. Soldiers must go through a complex federal waiver adjudication process in order to get the debts waived, and Beevers estimates that around 50 percent of soldiers who complete the process get their debts waived.

The bonus recoupment came after Pentagon auditors found the bonuses were not authorized and were the result of pressure to hit recruiting targets. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense announced that it would pay back the more than 17,000 troops who had been affected, with reimbursements expected to be complete by July.

California’s state-run Soldier Incentives Assistance Center has been working with soldiers to get them through the waiver process.

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