US defense chief: Don’t seek repayment of enlistment bonuses

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2011 file photo, California Army National Guard soldiers watch the arrival of the body of soldier Sean Walsh, who died on Nov. 16 during a combat operation in Afghanistan, at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, Calif. Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2011 file photo, California Army National Guard soldiers watch the arrival of the body of soldier Sean Walsh, who died on Nov. 16 during a combat operation in Afghanistan, at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, Calif. Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop seeking repayments of enlistment bonuses given to California National Guard members who served overseas.

His decision comes in the wake of angry reaction from members of Congress who demanded he relieve the burden on the Guard members. And the White House said President Barack Obama has warned the Defense Department not to “nickel and dime” service members who were victims of fraud by overzealous recruiters.

In a statement issued during a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels, Carter said effort to collect reimbursement should stop “as soon as is practical” and will continue until a process to help the troops deal with the problem is worked out.

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