Supporting The Troops

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

I don’t care if you are for or against the war in Iraq — this is just plain wrong:

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.

Memo to the Pentagon — it’s called an enlistment bonus for a reason.  They enlisted, so they get the bonus. 

Trying to get the money back AFTER they’ve enlisted and had their limbs blown off — well, that’s just Scrooge-like.

For what it’s worth, the congressman of the soldier spotlighted in the above-linked story, Democrat Jason Altmire, has introduced a bill to prohibit the Bush administration from asking the troops for refunds.

Mr. Altmire, D-McCandless, held a news conference yesterday at the Ross municipal building with Spc. Kaminski and other veterans to tout legislation he has authored to aid wounded soldiers.

At the forefront was a bill introduced last week and sent to committee that targets a Defense Department policy preventing eligible soldiers from receiving their full bonuses if discharged early because of combat-related injuries.

“Hard as it may be to believe, the Department of Defense has been denying injured servicemen and women the bonuses that they qualified for,” Mr. Altmire said.

He said he drafted the legislation after hearing “outrageous” examples of bonuses being denied…. Mr. Altmire’s legislation, the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act, would require the Defense Department to pay bonuses in full within 30 days to veterans discharged because of combat-related wounds.

I wonder if Republicans will block it.

UPDATE: Professor Volokh did some "quick research" on this and finds:

that the military does have this sort of policy, on the theory that the bonus is an advance payment for a full term of service and the soldier isn’t entitled to keep it unless he completes the full term — even when the failure to complete the term is a result of a combat wound.

It’s a stupid theory, and a crappy policy, no matter how "legal" it is.  As one of Volokh’s commenters snarkily writes:

"It’s time for these coddled soldiers to start bearing some of the burden that we here in the homeland have been carrying since 9/11.

Don’t they realize that we are at war?"