Congressman Lowenthal Statement On Secretary of Defense Suspension of National Guard Repayments
Congressman Alan Lowenthal today issued the following statement on the announcement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter that repayments from California National Guard members would cease being collected:
"I am relieved that Secretary of Defense Carter has suspended all efforts to collect reimbursements from affected California National Guard members.
"The California National Guard has stood in defense of our state for more than 110 years. In addition, the job of defending the safety and interests of the United States has fallen squarely on the able shoulders of the CalGuard innumerous times. Guardsmen from California have been deployed overseas nearly 40 times just since 2001.
"Congress has an obligation to do right by our CalGuard veterans who bravely stood in harm's way for our nation, and that is an obligation I take very seriously. First and foremost, these collections must stop immediately and I strongly support Secretary Carter's move in that direction.
"While suspending reimbursements is a good first step, it is only one step toward resolving this situation that has impacted too many of our brave veterans through no fault of their own. We must also move quickly to fully remove this cloud of uncertainty from our Guardsmen by completely waiving these repayments. I have joined with over 120 of my colleagues in Congress in writing to Secretary Carter and calling on him to immediately do so.
"The responsibility for this situation lies squarely on the doorstep of the Pentagon. While our first efforts must be to gain relief for our veterans, in the longer term, the Defense Department will have to answer to the American taxpayers on how these overpayments happened and why it took so long to discover them.
"Our veterans fulfilled their obligation through their service, now we must fulfill our obligations to them."