Kirk, Blunt defend National Guard by urging DOD to restore bonuses

Mark Kirk

U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) have joined a bipartisan effort to restore bonuses and benefits promised to National Guard soldiers.

The Department of Defense (DOD) had sought to collect improper bonuses paid to thousands of California National Guard soldiers who enlisted at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But last week, after widespread outrage, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter ordered the Pentagon to suspend efforts to reclaim the bonuses.

Kirk, Blunt and a coalition of bipartisan senators urged Carter to simplify the process for debt forgiveness for soldiers who have not already paid back improper bonuses, and to recoup soldiers who have already repaid them.

“Current reports allege that most, if not all, of the rank and file members of the California Guard simply accepted a bonus which they should not have been offered,” the letter to Carter states. “If this is the case, then we believe these debts should be forgiven. For those who have already undertaken the burden to repay them, the department should return the amount recouped, along with appropriate compensation.”

The senators requested a summary of actions taken by the DOD to rectify the problem and any changes to authorities that Carter recommends.