Velis speaks about National Guard repayments

Captain John Velis
Captain John Velis (Photo Courtesy: The Westfield News)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The California National Guard’s decision to recoup enlistment bonuses from veterans who served has created a feeling of disgust for military veteran and state Rep. John Velis.

“It’s nothing short of a national disgrace, I’m calling on congress to act on this not today, not tomorrow, but yesterday,” Velis said. “We promised service members a bonus and through no fault of their own they demand their money back.”

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The California National Guard has recently been exposed as attempting to collect bonuses paid to service members, impacting approximately 9,700 veterans. The bonuses were used to increase enlistment numbers but were fraudulently filed by the Guard’s incentive manager, retired Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe.

Jaffe reportedly fraudulently filed $15.2 million in claims. She was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2011 after pleading guilty to filing false claims.

Velis, who is active with the Army Reserves and has served for five years, including seeing combat in Afghanistan, eventually reaching the rank of captain, believes that the money given to the veterans is rightfully theirs. He also said that he has reached out through the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Veteran and Federal Affairs to try and resolve the issue.

The Committee has also reached out to Massachusetts veterans to be certain that none of them have been impacted. If any have been impacted, Velis said that he will fight for them and attempt to pass legislation at the state level immediately.

Velis said that he is also disgusted by members in the California legislature, since they knew about the collections that were happening two years prior to the story being leaked out to the press.

“We need to elect more veterans to office so somebody in this nation can have their back,” Velis said.

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