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Officials Explain Recoupment Policy for Wounded Troops

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2007 – If you are wounded in combat and discharged as a result, you will not have to pay back your enlistment bonus, Defense Department officials said here today.

“Bonuses are not recouped simply for one's inability to complete an enlistment or re-enlistment agreement through no fault of the military member,” a policy statement said.

Pentagon officials re-stated their policy after a wounded soldier in Pennsylvania received a bill from the Army. Jordan Fox was a private first class in Baqouba, Iraq, when he was wounded in the explosion of an improvised explosive device. Fox suffered vision troubles in his right eye and suffered a back injury when the bomb went off in May.

Fox was medically discharged and went home to his town near Pittsburgh. The Army sent him a letter asking him to repay $2,800 of his $7,500 enlistment bonus. He received a second letter telling him the Army would charge interest if he didn't make a payment within 30 days.

“Department policy prohibits recoupment when it would be contrary to equity and good conscience, or would be contrary to the nation's interests,” according to the Defense Department policy statement. “Those circumstances include, for example, an inability to complete a service agreement because of illness, injury, disability, or other impairment that did not clearly result from misconduct.”

Department policy on recoupment also establishes that, to the maximum extent permitted by law, the secretaries of the military departments “shall remit or cancel any and all theater debt incurred by military members who were medically evacuated from a combat zone due to injury or illness, except in the event of clear misconduct.”

Army officials said Fox will not be required to pay back any enlistment money he received. “By all accounts, his case seems to be an isolated one,” Army officials said. Anyone who does have an issue can call the Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline at 1-800-984-8523.

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