As you remember, Barack Obama’s Pentagon recently tried to take back bonus money that was given to National Guard soldiers more than a decade ago as part of their agreements to re-enlist and go back to Iraq and Afghanistan.
These men and women are American heroes. They agreed to re-enlist and dedicate years of their lives to fighting for the American flag. This year, the Obama administration tried to claw back their signing-bonuses.
Many of these veterans had to take out second mortgages on their houses to pay these debts. Others were pushed to the brink of bankruptcy.
Thanks to YOUR activism, Congress ultimately pressured the Pentagon into halting the debt collection program. But even the Pentagon admitted the halt was temporary and any veteran who already paid would not get their money back...
Next week, the US Congress will vote on its Defense Department appropriations bill. This is our best opportunity to ensure that these 10,000+ Reservists don’t get hit with any more collections notices. Both Republicans and Democrats have submitted amendments to deal with this issue.
I never thought I would say this, but after reading both proposals, the Democrats’ amendment does more to help our veterans.
From the very beginning, fixing this issue has had bipartisan support. Both Republicans and Democrats saw the plight facing these veterans and promised to take action. From the very beginning, we applauded them for this cooperation.
These veterans signed on to serve this country. They signed on, in part, because of the compensation they were offered. Now that these soldiers have lived up to their end of the bargain, the Pentagon wanted to claw-back their promises.
The Democrat proposal to put an end to this debt collection issue goes farther than the Republicans’ proposal. You can read the bill for yourself. It is completely clean. No funny business.
While both parties’ amendments deal with preventing any future debt collections, the Democrats go a few steps further by (1) refunding the money to all soldiers who have already paid, with interest, (2) directing all credit agencies to wipe any history of the debt from these soldiers’ records, and (3) providing additional resources to help those veterans who have had their lives ruined by this collections program.
Here at Conservative Daily, we like to call ourselves equal opportunity: We will go after Republicans just as often as we go after Democrats. But we also aren’t afraid to come out and say it when the Democrats have a better solution to bipartisan issues. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
We have chatted with some of the soldiers who faced these debt collections. Many of them had to take out second mortgages on their homes. Some had to completely drain their life savings in order to give Uncle Sam his pound of flesh.
One veteran who was prominently featured in the news continues to have trouble moving into a house because his credit score was devastated by the Pentagon’s debt collection efforts.
It is not enough to just end the collections. We need to make this right.
I don’t care whether the Democrats’ proposal gets passed on its own or becomes merged with the Republican bill. I don't care who gets the "credit." What is important is that these veterans have their lives restored to them. There are 1,700 veterans who have already paid these “debts.” Right now, as written, the Defense Appropriations Bill does nothing to ensure they get their money back. The Democrats’ proposal does.
These brave veterans fought for this country. Many of them sacrificed life and limb to fulfill their service contracts. This debt collections program never should have made it this far, but now it is up to us to make this right!
As you will notice, we addressed this article as “Fellow American” instead of our usual “Fellow Conservative” greeting. That is because making sure our veterans are properly treated is not a partisan issue. It is something that all Americans can get behind.
I anticipate that we will get some pushback for supporting a Democrat proposal. Frankly, I don’t really care. The veterans who are suffering from this program don't care whether a bill's sponsor has an R or D next to their name. They just need our help. Protecting our veterans is not a partisan issue.
What matters is fixing the problems they face, not whether the legislation is sponsored by a Republican or Democrat.
As I said, the Defense Department appropriations bill will be voted on in just a matter of days. As it stands now, the legislation only stops future debt collections. It currently does nothing to repay those 1,700 veterans who were already forced to surrender their bonuses.
The Democrats’ proposal, the National Guard Bonus Repayment and Financial Relief Act, does just that and it deserves all of our support!