Thousands of soldiers ordered to return bonuses are getting a reprieve from the pentagon after outrage from congress.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a pause in the Pentagon's effort to collect bonuses that were improperly given to some California national members, writing:
"While some soldiers knew or should have known they were ineligible for benefits they were claiming, many others did not…we will provide for a process that puts as little burden as possible on any soldier who received an improper payment through no fault of his or her own."
During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers were offered generous incentives to reenlist, including bonuses and student loan forgiveness.
The pentagon says it asked at most 6500 California Guard soldiers for repayments. The guard says about $22 million has been collected so far from 2000 soldiers.
"It's absolutely dumbfounding," said Robert Richmond, a guardsmen in California.
Richmond served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
When he didn't pay back a $15,000 dollar bonus, he says the guard reported the debt to credit agencies
“It felt like betrayal, it was depressing,” he said.
House speaker Paul Ryan called it an injustice. The House Oversight Committee announced an investigation, and congress is promising to pass legislation to help. The pentagon's decisions on each case are due in July.