U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement regarding the Defense Department’s (DoD) misguided bonus pay policy. DoD rules preclude the payment of scheduled bonuses to troops who do not finish their tours of duty due to combat-related injury. Smith cosponsored H.R. 3793, the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act of 2007, which would end this unfair policy. Smith also signed a letter to the President decrying DoD’s misguided rules regarding bonus pay.
“This policy is unacceptable and must be rectified, especially at a time when we’re asking so much of our men and women in uniform. I have joined U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) in sponsoring legislation and calling on the President to correct this inequitable policy. Troops wounded in combat deserve to receive the full amount of their bonuses, including future bonus payments they were promised but haven’t received yet,” Smith said.
DoD’s pay policy gained national attention after the Army demanded Private First Class Jordan Fox return almost $3,000 from a signing bonus promised to him when he signed up for military service. Pfc. Fox was unable to complete his tour of duty due to a service-connected injury. The Army has since stated that Pfc. Fox would not have to refund the already-paid portions of his bonus. However, the Department’s wider policy remains unchanged: troops who cannot complete their tours of duty due to combat-related injuries are denied the remainder of their scheduled pay bonuses. H.R. 3793 would force the department to pay out these bonuses in full within 30 days of a servicemember’s separation due to combat-related injuries.
“While I was glad to see the Army respond to a specific wounded soldier’s case and clarify that no repayment of enlistment bonuses would be required, that doesn’t go far enough; the department’s unfair bonus pay policy must change. I’ll keep working to make sure wounded service members get the benefits they were promised,” Smith added.