CBS Los Angeles
November 23, 2016
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Strother has been a spokesman of sorts for many of the California National Guard members told to pay back thousands of dollars in enlistment bonuses they got a decade ago.
“I’m worried about future good faith in the military and its contracts,” Strother said.
He filed a class-action lawsuit and was part of the push to bring attention to the issue.
Now that there are three proposed bills in Congress to solve the problem, Strother is saying slow down.
He feels politicians are rushing to be first to pass a bill without listening to all concerns.
“There are all kinds of soldiers that could fall through the cracks, soldiers that have not even been paid their bonuses,” Strother said.
He points to Bruce Himelright, a veteran who served in Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery.
According to the lawsuit, he was only given half his promised bonus, then was told he’ll never get the other half.
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And then read how this is not the first time soldiers were betrayed.
Bonus Army War in Washington
As many as 20,000 former soldiers and their families had converged on Washington in the summer of 1932, the height of the Great Depression, to support Texas Congressman Wright Patman’s bill to advance the bonus payment promised to World War I veterans. Congress had authorized the plan in 1924, intending to compensate the veterans for wages lost while serving in the military during the war. But payment was to be deferred until 1945. Just one year earlier, in 1931, Congress overrode a presidential veto on a bill to provide, as loans, half the amount due to the men. When the nation’s economy worsened, the half-bonus loans were not enough, and the unemployed veterans now sought the balance in cash. Known as Bonus Marchers, they came in desperation from all across the nation, hopping freight trains, driving dilapidated jalopies or hitchhiking, intent on pressuring Congress to pass the legislation. The administration vehemently opposed the measure, believing it inflationary and impractical given the $2 billion annual budget deficit.