Would you believe me if I told you the U.S. military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back their signing bonuses because they're not able to serve out their commitments? That sounds ludicrous, right? Ludicrous or not, it's happening, as this young soldier from the Pittsburgh area found out:
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UPDATE: KDKA News is reporting that the military backed down and Fox won't have to pay back his bonus. Fox had this to say: "Hopefully this will turn into change for not only me but many other soldiers that have lost limbs, you know, become permanently deaf," he said. "I hope to see a change for everybody."
An Army spokesperson said: "We have seen where the problems have been made, the system, and we're just making - you know, give us the opportunity to make a wrong a right."
I hope that includes returning any money other soldiers already handed over.
UPDATE #2: Okay, it always pays to read the fine print with these guys. This is what Brigadier General Michael Tucker said:
“We’re not sure what happened, but we’re gonna fix it.”Troops will not be asked for a refund, and those who’ve already given bonus money back will be reimbursed. But - there's always a "but" with the Bush administration - as TPMuckraker points out:
Tucker said that army policy "is that soldiers who are wounded in combat or have line of duty investigation injuries... we will not go after a recoupment of any bonuses they receive." Recouping bonuses, he said, "doesn't pass the common sense test."Incredible, simply incredible. They don't value human life in the least.
But notice that phrasing. While that policy, if implemented, would prevent injured soldiers from having to pay back bonuses they'd already received, they might still not receive their full enlistment bonus. That's because the Army could still withhold parts of the bonus on the basis that the soldiers didn't complete their full tour due to the injury.
Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who introduced a bill last month that would require the Pentagon to pay bonuses to wounded vets in full within 30 days after discharge for combat-related wounds, said he was "heartened" by Tucker's announcement this morning that the Army won't seek repayment of bonuses. He added:“However, I am disappointed that the policy does not go further by stating that wounded soldiers will also receive the remaining balance of future bonus payments. It is preposterous for our government to have a policy that says that a soldier who has sustained serious injuries in the field of battle has not fulfilled his or her service obligation."Pentagon rules, Altmire says, prevent enlistees from receiving their full enlistment bonus unless they fulfill their entire military obligation.