Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Wednesday that he has ordered the Pentagon to suspend its efforts to collect payments from California Army National Guard soldiers who were told to return their enlistment bonuses.
Carter announced steps to resolve the cases of thousands of soldiers who collectively received millions of dollars in bonuses at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but then were told years later that the money had to be repaid.
In a statement, Carter said he had ordered the Pentagon’s financial department to stop the payment collection until measures can be put in place to provide the affected service members with the support they need to appeal the process.
“There is no more important responsibility for the Department of Defense than keeping faith with our people. That means treating them fairly and equitably, honoring their service and sacrifice, and keeping our word,” Carter said in a statement. “Hundreds of affected Guard members in California have sought and been granted relief. But that process has simply moved too slowly and in some cases imposed unreasonable burdens on service members. That is unacceptable.”
Read more: The Washington Post