Danbury resident David Vieira was one of nearly 10,000 American veterans to have their bonuses rescinded following the conclusion of their service, as publicized in October by the Los Angeles Times. The Pentagon had determined the National Guard had no right to issue these bonuses, and as part of the National Guard’s efforts to reclaim lost monies, began issuing debt notices to Guard members. The Department of Defense eventually suspended its efforts to recoup the bonuses, but he was among the veterans whose bonuses were already recouped over the last decade.
Vieira joined the Connecticut National Guard in 2007, and then transferred to the California National Guard in August 2008. He served in Afghanistan from 2010-2011, and was honorably discharged in 2013. As an incentive for enrolling in the National Guard, Vieira was issued a Student Loan Replacement Program incentive.
In 2012, within a year of returning home from Afghanistan, Vieira received a notice of debt to the National Guard, which insisted he repay his SLRP incentive bonus. Hundreds of dollars were deducted each week from his VA pension until this debt was paid off.
Earlier this year, Vieira reached out to 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty for assistance in resolving this issue.
Esty worked with the California State Military Reserve, California National Guard, and National Guard Bureau to ensure all of Vieira’s bonus repayments would be refunded. Esty received word in November that Vieira’s case had been settled and he would be repaid in full.
She also wrote to the U.S. House leadership urging Congress to remain vigilant and work with Department of Defense to find a solution to end unfair bonus recoupments. Esty says for the government to demand that veterans return the compensation that was promised to them after they served was immoral and un-American. She added that it imposed an unfair financial hardship on thousands of American families.
Residents in central and northwest Connecticut who are having difficulty with veterans’ services or their benefits are encouraged to call Esty’s office at 860-223-8412.