Army’s letter to veteran: Pay us back $21,000

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Military veteran Ramon Sandoval walks across the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, California on September 15, 2016, where veterans began a 3-day campaign yesterday to bring awareness to military suicide, which statistics show some 22 veterans taking their own lives daily. Many veterans are taking turns walking across the bridge in shifts throughout the day. / AFP / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Master Sgt. Susan Haley couldn’t believe the letter she received from the Army saying she owed them $21,000.

“I was completely and totally in shock. I couldn’t believe they were doing this to me,” the 24-year veteran said. “They were very accusatory and very demanding and aggressive.”

Haley is one of thousands of veterans forced to repay enlistment bonuses or student loan incentives after officials said they were given the bonuses in error.

“The California Army National Guard (CAARNG) has audited your bonus and/or student loan repayment incentive payments, and noted a discrepancy,” the Army wrote to Haley in 2012.

The reasons for the $21,000 recoupment? “Payment made in violation of DoD guidance, Payment made in violation of federal law.”

Haley received another letter from the National Guard Bureau on January 4, 2013, saying the California Army National Guard’s Incentives Task Force “has found you to be indebted to the U.S. Government” — and that she must pay back interest, too.

“Interest shall accrue on this debt from the date of this notice,” the letter read.

Another letter from the National Guard Bureau, also dated January 4, 2013, warned what could happen if she left the Guard before paying the debt.

“Any portion of your debt remaining uncollected at the time of your separation from the California National Guard shall be collected from your final pay and allowances,” the letter read.

Haley told CNN on Tuesday that her military family’s savings have been depleted trying to pay for the mistakes of the California National Guard. She said she has appealed several times but to no avail.

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