Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pentagon Payback

Updated below.

You’ve probably heard the story, but just in case…

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.

What I’d like to know is if there is anyone out there, either at the Pentagon, in the Congress, or in the blogosphere actually defending this heinous and parsimonious policy. After all, there has to be somebody that came up with it, somebody who wrote the letter, somebody who approved it, and somebody who will go around and collect the “indebtedness.” I’d like to hear their logic behind it. I’d listen patiently to their reasons for demanding the money back. And then I’d make them go to each injured soldier, whether at home or in the VA hospital, and try to collect it. I’d like to see them ask for the money back in person.

I wonder just how long they’d last.

Update: The Pentagon now says billing the soldier was a mistake.

KDKA contacted the Pentagon. Investigators there took a look. A military spokesman told KDKA’s Marty Griffin the bill sent to Fox was a mistake.

Griffin asked Army Spokesperson Major Nathan Banks if the government was taking on Fox’s case.

Banks said via phone, “We are. We are … definitely working it out. 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.”

Major Banks says Fox will not have to pay back his bonus. Fox says “fine,” but he wants more.

“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.”

The Pentagon will not comment on allegations that thousands of other soldiers just sent home from Iraq and other invasions, including Afghanistan, will not receive these sorts of bills. They cannot comment on those cases.

When in doubt, blame the System. That usually works. The problem, however, is that the System is run by people, presumably people who are alert enough to see what’s coming out of the System. I speak from experience; I work in a large bureaucracy and I know that stuff like this can happen. I also know that if you’re paying attention, shit like this can be stopped before it causes this kind of clusterfuck, and if, for some reason, it gets out to the public, you can make amends as soon as possible. It looks like the Pentagon has the second part down; now they just need to figure out how to stop it from happening in the first place.