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Defense bill may give relief to National Guard veterans asked to repay bonuses




File: Soldiers attend their farewell ceremony for about 850 California National Guardsmen from the 1st Battalion, 185th Armor on Aug. 22, 2008 in San Bernardino.
File: Soldiers attend their farewell ceremony for about 850 California National Guardsmen from the 1st Battalion, 185th Armor on Aug. 22, 2008 in San Bernardino.
David McNew/Getty Images

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Last month, news broke that thousands of California National Guard troops were being asked to repay enlistment bonuses and benefits they had received. These generous incentives had been doled out as a way to retain soldiers during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Audits revealed that the contracts promising the bonuses and benefits were improperly issued. Investigators found fraud and mismanagement by National Guard recruiters who were under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

Soldiers who refused to repay these bonuses were warned they could be fined with interest charges, wage garnishments, and tax liens.

Now, there's potential relief for the affected veterans in the form of "debt" forgiveness included in a must-pass defense policy bill filed yesterday. It goes to the House tomorrow and on to the Senate next week. 

The deal is being characterized as "compromise" and to some, it doesn't go far enough. 

Take Two's Alex Cohen spoke with Bryan Strother who served in the National Guard for almost 20 years. Strother was one of the thousands of veterans asked to repay their bonuses. He also did not receive student loan payment as promised in his re-enlistment contract. His experiences led him to file a class action lawsuit.  

To hear the full interview, click on the Blue Arrow above. 



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