Yreka, Ca., — Nearly 10,000 California Guard members were ordered by the Pentagon to give back bonuses they received a decade ago for reenlisting.
Robert D’Andera, a former Guard member, was one of the thousands who received that notice.
He was given a $15,000 dollar bonus back in 2006.
“We volunteered, we signed on the line, we did our duty and now they’re slapping us in the face for it” said D’Andera.
Now Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has put a stop to the Pentagon’s repayment plans after Veterans, communities and Congress said it wasn’t fair.
“It definitely doesn’t make sense, and I don’t think it’s valid. It should have been better accountability to begin with, in a program like that, where they’re throwing out bonuses or promises of bonuses.” said Robert Ballesteros.
Robert Ballesteros is a former marine in Siskiyou County.
While he wasn’t asked to pay back any bonuses, he says what the Pentagon was trying to do isn’t fair.
He’s glad his fellow Veterans won’t have to worry any more.
“I’m glad to hear that. Those that haven’t had to collect, great wonderful, a great burden off their shoulders.” said Ballesteros.
Siskiyou County has around 4,000 registered Veterans, but the Veteran’s Service Office says it hasn’t had anyone come in with concerns about the bonuses.
Several California Guard recruiters pleaded guilty to fraud in 2011 for sending out the illegal bonuses.
Though it is just California Guard members right now, there’s some concern the scandal may stretch to other states, and is currently under investigation.
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