Kempner, Texas native Susan Haley says she got the letter that would torment her family in July of 2012. That letter came from the Department of Defense.
"They act like I'm a criminal," she said.
That letter informed her that she was in violation of federal law. It claimed that she had improperly received an enlistment bonus worth over $22,000. Haley spent 24 years serving in the military and with the California National Guard.
She would take overseas deployments to Kosovo. But she admits she was on the fence about reenlisting until she realized she got the bonus.
"I never would have accepted any money that I didn't believe I deserved," she said.
After the letter, arrived she spent more than a year trying to appeal what was alleged in it. Her husband, Don Haley, said their monthly payments came out to $600 to repay the bonus. He said they went broke because that money accounted for a quarter of their monthly income.
An investigation revealed that a high-ranking military official had improperly handed out bonuses. That official was charged and sentenced. But it was on Wednesday that the Haleys got the news they've been wanting to hear: the news that the Pentagon will stop collecting bonus repayments.
"I've ordered the suspension of all efforts to collect reimbursement from affected California Guard members," said Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Regardless, it has already taken a toll on the family. Don Haley said they’ve gone broke trying to make payments on a monthly basis.
"You don't feel like a good parent because you can provide for the kids," said Don Haley.
The Haleys are hoping the fix is on the way. They are wanting the federal government to forgive all debts forever for all affected service members. They're also hoping the government returns the money that people have paid off in monthly repayments.
"I'm still distrustful because of all the years of being ignored," she said.
Susan said this incident has hurt the credit ratings of a lot of friends who have made financial sacrifices to make the payments. She's hoping that there is a remedy to this as well. Finally, she wants a letter of apology from the California National Guard to all of its service members for everything that has happened.
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