23 October 2016

US Government Aggressively Clawing Back Its Own Soldiers Enlistment Bonuses Given In Time of War

A rational person might ask, why is the US government aggressively going after the soldiers themselves, who accepted a bonus to re-enlist and actually served again in a war, putting themselves in harm's way, in good faith?

If there was active collusion to defraud it should be prosecuted, but if not, why make the soldiers pay the price?

If there is a problem why are they not addressing it with the local government officials who may have offered the bonuses in error to achieve the ends demanded by the powers that be in Washington?

It is because the soldiers, who faithfully served their country and kept their end of the deal, are the most vulnerable. They are individually weak, and not equipped to lawyer up and fight back against legalistic injustice.

Does the US government really need the money from those soldiers? The bonuses obviously mean a lot to their lives and those of their families, but is just a drop in the bucket to the technocratic war machine.

It is because they can. When the going gets tough, the amoral pervert justice and go after the weak and the disabled and 'the other.'

You might be further tempted to wonder why the government does almost nothing to hold the perpetrators of all these massive financial frauds and corporate healthcare abuses we have been seeing for the past twenty year accountable in the same aggressive way, when it might be much more justifiable to do so?

Good question.

But it assumes that the powerful politicians in the government are inclined to watch out for you and your rights against the abuses of the powerful.

That founding principle of our government almost sounds quaint now, having gone by the wayside after decades of programs designed to make the weak seem like parasites, and honest working people to be fools who deserve whatever they get, as long as the self-proclaimed 'most deserving' get the most of it.

Don't worry, such a question will never come up in all these political discussion having to do with cults of personalities, snarky remarks, and naughty diversions, while the real problems of the people are ignored.

The powerful are caught up in a credibility trap.  They cannot even admit what is wrong, because they are being so personally enriched by it.

Have you ever noticed how politicians who have been in the circles of power for years will either react to a questioning of the system as some act of pernicious disloyalty, or at best, speak about the very system in which they play a major role as something in which they are not even involved?

That is known as the 'CEO defense.'  Yes I was very well paid and given significant power and responsibility for running things, but honestly, I barely knew what was going on all around me.  

We will be seeing much more of this as time goes forward. The privileged few have an institutionally warped perspective, little sense of justice, and certainly no shame in pursuit of what they want.

It is a hallmark of a corporatized system drunk with power and arrogantly audacious, where the citizens and customers are prey for the new class of the elite who go to the same schools and share the same social rituals, world views, and class forms of language.   And you have to observe certain public niceties, certain tokens of allegiance, to retain access to their exclusive circles of power.

And if you don't like it, too bad, because those who can lawyer up the most and exercise the greatest political connections make the rules as they wish.

What is truth? Whatever they and their enablers and stooges say that it is.

How far will they go?   As far as they can.

This is what happens when a ruling elite rises up that views themselves and those 'like them' as entitled by their power to consider everyone else as things, items on a balance sheet, to be used and then discarded when they are done with them.

I can feel the moral arc of justice starting to bend low under these continuing abuses of power. And history has shown that there will be consequences.

But it might be too much to expect the changes to come from within the self-anointed ruling class.  They will view every crisis as just another opportunity to get more of what they really want: money and power for themselves.

Thousands of California soldiers forced to repay enlistment bonuses a decade after going to war
David S. Cloud

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

But soldiers say the military is reneging on 10-year-old agreements and imposing severe financial hardship on veterans whose only mistake was to accept bonuses offered when the Pentagon needed to fill the ranks...

'These bonuses were used to keep people in,' said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran from Manteca, Calif., who says he refinanced his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the Army says he should not have received. 'People like me just got screwed.'

In Iraq, Van Meter was thrown from an armored vehicle turret — and later awarded a Purple Heart for his combat injuries — after the vehicle detonated a buried roadside bomb.

Susan Haley, a Los Angeles native and former Army master sergeant who deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, said she sends the Pentagon $650 a month — a quarter of her family’s income — to pay down $20,500 in bonuses that the Guard says were given to her improperly.

'I feel totally betrayed,' said Haley, 47, who served 26 years in the Army along with her husband and oldest son, a medic who lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan.

Haley, who now lives in Kempner, Texas, worries they may have to sell their house to repay the bonuses. 'They’ll get their money, but I want those years back,' she said, referring to her six-year reenlistment...

Read the entire story here.