Get wounded in Iraq? – return your enlistment bonus!


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

    Wounded Vets Asked to Pay Up
    The Associated Press
    Monday 26 November 2007

New York - Service members seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan after they 
received a $10,000 bonus for enlisting are being asked by the Pentagon to repay 
portions of the incentive money, says a U.S. senator who calls the practice an 
example of military policy gone wrong.

"A bill in the mail is not the kind of present our soldiers deserve in this 
holiday season," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. said. "Our veterans are not being 
treated with the dignity, respect and thanks that they deserve. It's just a 

At a news conference Sunday, he said the policy remained in effect despite a 
report last July by a presidential commission that wounded veterans were being 
unfairly penalized by a requirement that enlistees must fulfill their entire 
term of service or lose a pro-rated portion of their bonus.

"This policy and early discharge as a result of service-related injury is now 
preventing thousands of combat-wounded warriors from getting the bonuses they 
have earned," Schumer said. "This includes several hundred New Yorkers who 
suffered wounds or catastrophic injuries before concluding their duty."

He said that when the case of Jordan Fox, an Army sniper partially blinded by a 
roadside bomb in Iraq, was called to the Pentagon's attention, officials replied
that the demand for him to repay $2,800 was a "clerical error" and canceled the 

If the Mount Lebanon, Pa., soldier's case was an isolated incident, there has 
been no explanation of why hundreds of other wounded veterans have also received
letters demanding repayment, Schumer said. "When you talk to the Pentagon, you 
get different answers from different people," he said.

The numbers of veterans affected by the policy are not known. Schumer said his 
office had received several complaints, as had the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
of America.

"Asking wounded service members to repay part of their enlistment bonuses is an 
outrage," IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff said in an e-mailed statement.

"Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is pleased to work with Congress to 
put an end to this unfair practice," Rieckhoff said. "These injured heroes have 
made enormous sacrifices for our country and they deserve to be treated with the
utmost honor and gratitude."

Standing in front of a World War I memorial, Schumer called on the Department of
Defense to conduct an internal investigation and audit to identify recently 
wounded personnel who received the dunning letters and assure them that 
repayments were not necessary.

He also said he would support proposed legislation, to be called the Veterans 
Guaranteed Bonus Act, to require full payment of bonuses to enlistees within 30 
days of discharge from the service due to combat-related injuries.

As of Sunday, at least 3,875 members of the U.S. military have died since the 
beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The figure includes eight military civilians. At least 3,157 died as a result of
hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is three higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated 
Friday at 10 a.m.

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