April 30, 2024

Reps. Gallego, Kelly, Waltz Call Out National Guard for Continued Delays Paying Owed Bonuses

This is the second letter Rep. Gallego has sent to the Guard regarding the unpaid bonuses

WASHINGTON - Today, Reps. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03), Trent Kelly (MS-01), and Michael Waltz (FL-06) sent a letter to National Guard Bureau Chief General Daniel R. Hokanson demanding to know why the Guard continues to fail to fully pay reenlistment bonuses owed to more than 13,000 servicemembers and expressing concern that servicemembers are now being forced to cut through bureaucratic red tape to receive what they are owed.

“Civilians are not required to navigate through an extensive, months-long claims process just to get the payments they were promised for doing their job. It is deeply disappointing that the Guard believes that they can withhold payment when it involves our men and women in uniform,” the Members write. “Beyond severely impacting recruitment and retention, it signals a lack of respect for their service, particularly for our enlisted men and women.”

Recent reporting indicates that the Guard is sending out letters to people that its records show may still be owed a bonus. However, these letters do not indicate if or when they can expect to receive their bonus, or even how much they are owed. Instead, letter recipients are required to submit a claim for payment as well as full documentation of service.

To address the many concerns around this system, the Members ask the following questions:

  1. What led the Guard to choose this method for paying bonuses? Is it the position of the Guard that this approach is better than an internal audit and notification process with detailed information, and why?
  2. Assuming the Guard believes it has an accurate accounting of who is owed a bonus and their current address, what specific details of the Guard's records have you found to be lacking accuracy?
  3. When will veterans and servicemembers be told how much they will be receiving, how will those payments be processed, when will they expect those payments, and how will appeals be processed?
  4. Will the National Guard complete an audit once claims are adjudicated to ensure that all bonuses owed were paid?
  5. Will the National Guard be providing extra support or assistance to people who may not have the required documentation? Or is that burden expected to be shouldered by other agencies, Congressional offices, and Veteran Service Organizations? If additional parties are expected to be involved in the casework process, when can we expect additional guidance to be distributed?
  6. Have there been any communications within the Guard regarding how the chosen process, with the burden placed on servicemembers and their families, is more likely to lead to underpayments and, therefore, cost-savings on the part of the Guard, compared to an automatic payment system?

Full text of the letter can be found HERE.

This letter follows an initial inquiry the Members sent last November.

READ MORE: After 9,000 Guardsmen Weren't Paid Owed Bonuses, House Lawmakers Say They Want Answers (Military.com)