"Pentagon Bends (But Doesn’t Reverse) Policy That Withholds Bonuses From Wounded Vets"
Yesterday, the blogosphere erupted in anger over the report that Pfc. Jordan Fox was being asked by the Pentagon to return some of his enlistment signing bonus because he was injured by a roadside bomb while in Iraq and did not have the opportunity to complete his full tour.
Appearing on Fox News this morning, Pentagon spokesman Michael Tucker announced that the Pentagon was reversing course and would not force Jordan to repay the bonus. “It doesn’t pass the common-sense test,” he said.
Jordan appeared on the same show an hour later to respond to the Pentagon’s decision. “That’s impressive,” he said, “but my next question is how many other mistakes have been made?” Last night, appearing on a series of cable news shows, Jordan said he’s heard of many other soldiers who have faced similar circumstances. He told MSNBC’s Dan Abrams:
I do have to say — this isn’t the end. This is just the beginning because it’s still a continuing problem amongst other men that maybe are too afraid to speak up. Well they need to speak up and we need to end this now.
Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who has introduced the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act to prevent the Defense Department from penalizing wounded soldiers, put out this statement this morning:
I am heartened by Brigadier General Michael S. Tucker’s announcement of the Army’s policy that it will not ask for repayment of bonuses paid to those soldiers who are injured in the line of duty. However, I am disappointed that the policy does not go further by stating that wounded soldiers will also receive the remaining balance of future bonus payments. It is preposterous for our government to have a policy that says that a soldier who has sustained serious injuries in the field of battle has not fulfilled his or her service obligation.
While serving in Iraq, a roadside bomb knocked Jordan unconscious and blinded him in his right eye. He is now recovering a portion of his eyesight, but continues to have back pain. Jordan had received $10,000 as a signing bonus for enlisting. The Army originally demanded that he return $5,000, but reduced the amount to $3,000 after transferring his unused leave pay.
Jordan’s parents started Operation Pittsburgh Pride, a nonprofit organization that sends care packages to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May, Jordan’s mother personally met President Bush. “I asked him to look in on the First Cavalry,” she said. “My son was injured on Sunday in Iraq. He has a concussion, and some issues with his sight in his right eye. I asked him to check on the Calvary, to make sure we had enough equipment.” Here’s Jordan’s mother shaking hands with Bush: