Veterans Enlistment Bonus Scandal Requires Leadership
At the conclusion of each of my presentations on issues critical to America, I take time to honor America’s veterans with a photo tribute.
This tribute is mandatory as the sacrifices, courage, and patriotism of our veterans must always be appreciated.
These tributes also complement my published works that emphasize the sacrifices of veterans as a heartbeat of America’s character.
We are able to enjoy the freedom, democracy, and way of life we have because of those who have offered military service.
Liberation Monument: Depicting America’s Virtues
An inspirational statue depicting the courage, compassion, and character of military service is the Liberation Monument in Jersey City, New Jersey.
This monument is surrounded by the historic significance of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the New York skyline.
The statue, designed by sculptor Natan Rapaport, depicts a World War II American soldier carrying a survivor from a concentration camp.
It is a masterpiece that ignites a spark of compassion in the soul, a virtue at the heart of America’s sacrifices during World War II.
Military Sacrifices: The Legacy Continues
As in generations past, America’s military personnel are making courageous and selfless sacrifice, not only for our country, but to protect life throughout the world.
America must always appreciate their sacrifices and demand that their valor is always honored.
The legacy of America demands a renewal of patriotism. We are destined to be a hope for freedom, liberty, and decency and must build our legacy on moral leadership.
America’s virtues will only be authentic when all who serve our nation in the military are honored.
America’s Shame: Forcing Bonus Returns
During the last few years, there have been numerous scandals that highlight America’s leadership crisis. This includes the incompetence, insensitivity, and disregard for our veterans.
The latest scandal involves the California National Guard with veterans being ordered to pay back millions of enlistment bonuses.
The epicenter of this scandal is the corruption case of retired Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe of the California National Guard.
In a Department of Justice (DOJ) statement, Jaffe pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million.
“When she pleaded guilty, Jaffe admitted that the fall of 2007 through October 2009, she routinely submitted false and fictitious claims on behalf of her fellow California National Guard members.
“Jaffe admitted that she submitted claims to pay bonuses to members of the California National Guard whom she knew were not eligible to receive the bonuses and to pay off officer’s loans, even though she knew the officers were ineligible for loan repayment,” the DOJ statement reads.
Jaffe was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison but the repercussions of her crime is wreaking havoc in the lives of nearly 10,000 innocent soldiers.
The Pentagon is demanding repayment of enlistment bonuses from the soldiers, many who served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is a shameful travesty to those who have served America and who received the enlistment bonuses in good faith. The return of this money causes unnecessary hardships (including wage garnishment, tax liens, and interest costs) that is unjust, disgraceful, and insensitive.
One of these thousands of heart-wrenching stories is of Purple Heart Recipient Christopher Van Meter.
Despite being wounded in Iraq and spending a lifetime of service in the military, he received a letter demanding he return $46,000. This bill even included a processing fee.
Van Meter started paying back $1,300 a month in a multi-year plan. This causes financial hardships with expenses including daycare and food for his children.
As detailed in my March 21, 2014 article for the Epoch Times titled “Life Lessons From the United States Military,” there are leadership lessons to be learned from the ideals of our military.
These ideals are compassion, courage, and character and are counter-cultural to corruption, apathy, and selfishness.
All those who have served our nation are worthy of respect, dignity, and honor. None of our veterans, nor their families, should be required to endure unnecessary burdens inflicted by crimes of corruption.
Corruption is not the honorable soldiers fault, nor should it be their burden.
America must rise to the occasion and express outrage at this injustice. We must demand that those in positions of leadership reflect the wisdom that will restore dignity to those who have borne the battle.
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com