Thanksgiving Story: Wounded Troops Told to Give Back Bonuses

(Update below)

Via Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report, we learn that some people have more to be thankful for than others.

The Pittsburgh CBS affiliate, KDKA, reported this week that after the truck Jordan Fox was riding in was blown up by a roadside IED and he sustained injuries to his back and the loss of one eye, the Army sent him home.

His injuries prohibited him from fulfilling three months of his commitment. A few days ago, he received a letter from the military demanding nearly $3,000 of his signing bonus back.

“I tried to do my best and serve my country. I was unfortunately hurt in the process. Now they’re telling me they want their money back,” he explained.

(emphasis added)

No, I’m not kidding. This isn’t some kind of tasteless holiday prank. It’s true. KDKA reporter Marty Griffin says it’s suddenly standard.

The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

“Thanks for being wounded in service to your country, but you missed fulfilling your contract by 3 months. Now give us our goddamn money back.”

I honestly don’t know what to say about this. Since when do military bean-counters nickel-and-dime wounded soldiers?

Well, since Donald Rumsfeld decided that he could send troops into battle in Iraq without adequate armor, ammunition, or even boots. Fuck it. Their families could buy that stuff for them. Then the Republican Congress cut personal travel expenses and stopped soldiers stationed overseas, including those in combat theaters, from hitching rides on military transport planes so they could go home on leave. Now they have to pay their own way on commercial airlines – the first time that’s ever happened.

While the Bush Administration’s “free-market” loyalists handed out $$hundreds of millions$$ to war profiteers like Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater and Custer Battles, paying 2-3X the going price for gasoline, food, and every other “privatized” function, at the same time it was furiously cutting its appropriations for the VA, making National Guard troops who had lost limbs in Iraq wait for up to 2 years for prosthetic replacements. A few months ago, the Defense Dept started sending out bills to soldiers whose equipment had been destroyed in combat. They’re now expected to pay for trucks blown up by bombs.

In fact, there have been so many cheesy, cheap “money-saving” cuts that there’s been a fresh outrage against our soldiers almost every week for 4 solid years. Walter Reed changed nothing, obviously.

It’s impossible to caricature these people. What in gawd’s name are they thinking? How can they do this? How do they get away with it?

I give up. I can’t deal with this shit any more.

Update: Faced with yet more lousy publicity over this,  Paul Kiel notes that the Pentagon is already trying to back off.

Well, the story kicked up something of a firestorm, so Brigadier General Michael Tucker, deputy commanding general of Walter Reed (he was tapped after the scandal broke), showed up on Fox News early this morning.

Reacting to Fox’s case, he said, “We’re not sure what happened but we’re gonna fix it.”

Kiel further notes with some frustration that Tucker didn’t make it plain whether he was going to “fix” this single case or all the thousands vet groups are saying exist. He also reports that a Democratic Congressman, Pennsylvania’s Jason Altmire, introduced a bill last month to correct the problem.

Republican skinflints who hate the troops will no doubt try to block it and President Bush, who only likes the troops who support him no matter what he does to them, will almost certainly threaten to veto it because “it’s too expensive”.

And so it goes.

One Response to “Thanksgiving Story: Wounded Troops Told to Give Back Bonuses”

  1. Seth says:

    This is the problem with all government stuff. These people don’t look at the situtation, they just look at the numbers and do what’s on paper. It’s like the National Guard guys that got screwed out of G.I. Bill money. The personnel in charge of paying these guys have no idea what they’ve gone through.

    The ones to get pissed of at are the leaders; the company and battalion commanders. Those are the guys that should be standing up for their soldiers and getting the attention of their superiors. A commander’s job is to look after his troops. I think they should get their bonus regardless of the rules.

    When I was in the Army there was a saying. For every rule, there are a dozen exceptions. I think this should be one of those exceptions.

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