Thousands of soldiers must repay enlistment bonuses a decade after going to war

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nearly 10,000 soldiers who enlisted with the California National Guard and received a bonus are being ordered to repay that money.  This news comes a decade after the soldiers signed up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Los Angeles Times reports the Pentagon demanded the money be returned after audits revealed the California National Guard improperly offered bonuses of $15,000 or more for soldiers to re-enlist.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the money was given to the soldiers upfront, much like an athlete receives a signing bonus. But apparently, the money was only supposed to be given to soldiers who were taken on high-demand assignments.

“It certainly hurts the credibility going forward if we can’t depend on the promises that were made to us when we volunteered to put our life on the line,” retired Commander Francis McVey of the US Navy told CBS Los Angeles.

The soldiers could face interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they don’t return the money.

A spokesperson with the California National Guard told CBS Los Angeles, “The California National Guard does not have the authority to unilaterally waive these debts. However, the California National Guard welcomes any law passed by Congress to waive these debts.”