Oregon guardsmen denied bonuses triples

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Oregon guardsmen denied bonuses triples
By Congressman Greg Walden

I want to draw your attention to the Bulletin story that documents the rise in wrongly denied bonuses to National Guard soldiers. After inquiring with the National Guard, Rep. Greg Walden last week was informed that 61 Oregon soldiers have been denied bonus payments in 2011. Of those, 51 have been paid, and the remaining ten are pending review. That’s a sharp increase from the 19 soldiers identified during the summer.

Upon learning this information, Rep. Walden sent the attached letter to Major General Raymond Carpenter to reiterate that the onus should be on the National Guard to proactively seek out soldiers whose bonuses were wrongfully denied. He is again asking a question that went unanswered despite a formal request to the National Guard’s Inspector General: How many soldiers have been wrongfully denied bonuses nationwide in 2009, 2010, and 2011? The Guard must be able to answer that question before it can get its arms around the full scope of the problem and ensure that each soldier that fulfilled his or her contract is paid. Here are the questions in Rep. Walden’s latest letter:

• Is the National Guard only reviewing previously denied “Exception to Policy” requests instead of all denied bonuses?
• How are you contacting soldiers who were denied their bonuses but never filed an “Exception to Policy” request?
• To date, how many soldiers in Oregon and nationwide have been wrongfully denied their anniversary incentive payments?
• What are your plans for ensuring that every single one of them receives the payment they have earned?
(End Walden Press release)

Excerpt from the Bend Bulletin:

“The number of Oregon National Guard soldiers who were denied portions of their enlistment bonuses in 2011 has ballooned to 61, more than three times the number the Guard Bureau acknowledged in August. Earlier this month, Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, the acting director of the Army National Guard, reported to Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, that of the 61 Oregon soldiers who had bonus payments denied in 2011, 51 had been paid, while three were pending and seven were being reviewed on the state level. The disputes surround enlistment bonuses promised by National Guard recruiters during an effort to boost the National Guard’s ranks between 2006 and 2009. The bonuses, as spelled out in contracts signed by the soldiers and representatives of the National Guard, were generally payable half upon completion of initial training and half after three years of service.Depending on the specialized job that the recruit agreed to fill, the bonuses could be as much as $20,000.”