Congressman Garamendi Signs NDAA Conference Report to Permanently Protect California National Guardsmen from Bonus Clawbacks
WASHINGTON, DC- Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Yuba City, Davis, CA), a core conferee for the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed the NDAA Conference Report that would protect nearly 10,000 current and former California National Guardsmen from attempts by the Department of Defense to reclaim the bonuses and incentives they were paid upon enlisting or reenlisting during our nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report must now be adopted by both chambers of Congress before being presented to President Obama for his signature.
Under this provision, Guardsmen’s debts will be waived and any money they’ve already paid back will be returned to them unless the Department can definitively prove that a service member fraudulently took an incentive they knew they were not eligible for. This language will also ensure that the Department of Defense conducts its previously announced review process in a manner that is as fair as possible to the affected service members, and legally binds the Department to meeting their stated goal of completing their reviews by July 30, 2017. The Department will also provide any assistance necessary to repair a Guardsman’s credit if necessary.
“I’m very pleased that a permanent legislative fix is one step closer to President Obama’s desk, but our job isn’t done yet,” said Garamendi. “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will be keeping close watch to make sure that the Department of Defense lives up to these commitments to our veterans.”
Garamendi is also the author of the National Guard Pay Integrity Act, a standalone piece of legislation that would remove any repayment obligation for the Guardsmen who accepted their bonuses and incentives in good faith.