David A. Bryant
Amy Proctor

As a former Guardsman myself, I was deeply disturbed to read a story on thousands of National Guard soldiers beign ordered to repay re-enlistment bonuses from an improperly managed system.

These soldiers were given bonuses to retain a pool of highly-qualified, deployable soldiers at a time when deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan were coming back to back. While currently only soldiers with the California National Guard are paying for these mistakes, National Guard Bureau admitted programs in every state had the same issues.

Which means any Guard soldier who reenlisted for $15,000 or more — and then deployed to a combat zone — could be forced to pay it all back. Even though many of those soldiers came back with Purple Heart Medals for that service.

They were each asked to sign the dotted line yet again to — in many cases — go back to war. So why on earth are these soldiers having to pay for mistakes made way higher up the chain than them?

This is unconscionable and deplorable in every sense of the words. The very people you send to die for the freedom of the 99 percent of Americans unwilling to do the dirty work should be the last people in this nation required to pay for others’ mistakes.

Think this doesn’t affect anyone here? The story I read highlighted a former master sergeant who now lives in Kempner, just west of Copperas Cove, who is currently having to pay the government about a quarter of her family’s finances to repay more than $20,000 of supposed improper bonuses.

This is a woman who served for 26 years before retiring, deployed mulitiple times and has a son who lost a leg while serving in the Army in Afghanistan. In other words, this is affecting our neighbors and not just folks in California.

As we head to the polls to vote on Nov. 8 — or go vote during early voting — it’s important to remember we’re not just voting for the next commander in chief: There are quite a few open positions in Congress, both the House and Senate, we’re voting for as well. These are the people who make the decisions like this one.

If you’re just as angry as I am about this type of treatment of our soldiers, perhaps you should think about which box you’re going to check before you blindly choose the “R” or the “D” candidate. Make sure that person will have the best interest of our finest citizens at heart. Otherwise, you might be the next one to pay.

David A. Bryant is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at dbryant@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7554.

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