OPINION RELEASE: Guardsman re-enlists, Pentagon kills bonus Officers from state try to restore $15,000 benefit
- Rick Stanley
We the People Scoop 11/6/05
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OPINION RELEASE: Guardsman re-enlists, Pentagon kills bonus Officers from state try to
restore $15,000 benefit
STANLEY NOTE: More lies, deceipt and fraud from the government that has
overthrown America from within.
Subject: Guardsman re-enlists, Pentagon kills bonus Officers from state try to
restore $15,000 benefit
Saturday, November 5, 2005
Guardsman re-enlists, Pentagon kills bonus
Officers from state try to restore $15,000 benefit
By SAM SKOLNIK zzz
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
A Department of Defense decision to renege on war-time promises to
pay bonuses to more than a dozen re-enlisting Washington National
Guardsmen has sparked outrage from prominent elected officials and
state National Guard officers working to rectify the situation.
According to a state Guard spokesman, Maj. Phil Osterli, at least 15
Washington National Guardsmen and women signed re-enlistment forms
promising them a tax-free $15,000 bonus in return. Many of them were
stationed in Iraq at the time, he said.
But Pentagon officials have said in published reports that the
bonuses were canceled because they duplicated other programs and were
Sgt. 1st Class Carl Latson is one of those in the Washington National
Guard directly affected. The Spanaway man, a 13-year military veteran
who said he has served both in Operation Desert Storm and in the
current Iraq war, re-enlisted in January for another six-year term,
which would have taken him close to retirement from the service.
Latson, 35, said Friday that the bonus was a big incentive to
re-enlist. At the time it was offered, he was serving in Iraq as an
enlisted aide for a general at the Balad Army base near Baghdad.
He signed a re-enlistment form Jan. 17, just after he took the oath
from his commanding officer. "For a 6 year reenlistment/extension I
will receive a total bonus of $15,000," reads the official Army
National Guard form.
After serving two years active duty with the Navy and the last 11
years with the National Guard, Latson said, "I re-enlisted because
the opportunity was there to finally get a bonus."
Latson, who served in Iraq most recently from March 2004 to March
2005, said he has been counting on the money to help buy a house and
to support his 11-year-old daughter. He said he knows at least 10
other National Guardsmen in the same boat.
"It has made a significant impact on my life," said Latson. "For them
to offer a bonus when we're at war, when we're risking our lives, and
then to turn around and not pay it when we return is the wrong
message to send to me, to any soldier. It's not fair."
The state Guard is fighting the Pentagon's sudden reversal on the
issue. Osterli said the state Guard's recruiting and retention
commander, Maj. John Sharrett, is in Washington, D.C., arguing to
National Guard and Pentagon brass that the reversal is unwise and unfair.
"We're clearly concerned about this issue and want to make sure these
soldiers get what they deserve," said Osterli.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is also lobbying Pentagon officials. She
first learned that the bonus program had been scrapped this summer,
according to The News Tribune of Tacoma. She has since written
officials with the National Guard Bureau demanding an explanation.
Latson has retained a lawyer, Mark Clausen of Seattle. Clausen said
that for now he's working "up the chain of command" of the locally
based military to see if he can find relief for his client that way,
before pursuing other legal remedies.
He began by sending a letter this week to Col. Michael McCaffree of
the 81st Brigade Combat Team at Camp Murray in Tacoma, Latson's unit.
The letter was copied to 14 other officers in Seattle and Tacoma.
A Pentagon spokesman declined comment Friday.
Latson said that regardless of whether he gets the money promised
him, he's made one decision. He plans to quit the military long
before retirement age.
"I'm to the point now where I want to get out," he said. "I'm just
P-I reporter Sam Skolnik can be reached at 206-448-8334 or
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