Several members of Congress wrote a letter to the National Guard Bureau Chief, Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, demanding information about 12,000 unpaid bonuses to Guard troops.
Signing bonuses are a major recruiting incentive, with new soldiers who commit to six years of service and score appropriately on the ASVAB test being eligible for up to $20,000.
Veterans-turned-lawmakers Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., Trent Kelly, R-Miss, and Mike Waltz, R-Fla., authored the note, which demands accountability as well as answers for why this happened.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that the National Guard has not paid thousands of soldiers and veterans the enlistment bonuses they were promised,” Gallego said. “We need answers.”
According to a National Guard spokesman, only 6% haven’t been paid.
“There are approximately 9,000 soldiers who may be overdue a bonus payment,” Paul Swiergosz with the National Guard Bureau told Military Times.
That excludes an additional 3,900 soldiers who separated without receiving their full bonuses, Swiergosz noted.
“However, the majority appear to have been ineligible due to an associated adverse action that was not lifted upon their separation,” he said.
In the letter, the lawmakers argue that the National Guard has far exceeded its mandate to pay out bonuses within 30 days of initial training, averaging six months if not longer.
“This discrepancy adds further confusion to an already seemingly disjointed process that lacks codification and a clear way forward for soldiers and veterans seeking the money that they deserve,” it reads.
The lawmakers called particular attention to the Army National Guard Incentive Management System, which they say has experienced two 10-month-long outages in five years.
Swiergosz said that some of the slowness can be attributed to the incentive management system.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.