Thursday, February 23, 2017

National Guard Bonus Trapped Soldier Needs Help

Phoenix veteran struggles to repay National Guard bonus
The Republic
Craig Harris
Feb. 22, 2017

Army National Guard wants $15,000 bonus back, saying veteran didn't serve in Arizona long enough before transferring to Nevada
Ashley Christopher
(Photo: Special for The Republic)
Ashley Christopher, whose nearly 10 years in the military included stints in Iraq and Afghanistan, spends her days in downtown Phoenix helping homeless veterans find housing.

But the 33-year-old might soon be on the streets herself.

Christopher said she was forced to sell her home to try to repay the government, which threatened to garnish her wages because of a dispute over whether she fulfilled her Army National Guard commitment and was entitled to a $15,000 bonus. A National Guard spokesman said Christopher could have cleared up the problem in 2012, but did not do so, triggering the current controversy.

"I don't have anywhere to go," Christopher said Wednesday. "It wouldn't be a big deal if I didn't have two dogs. But couch surfing with two dogs is a lot to ask of my friends."

Christopher said she fulfilled her National Guard duties and was honorably discharged in February 2015.

But problems with the federal government began last August, when she received an $11,079 bill from the U.S. Treasury Department, alleging she didn't fulfill the full terms of her military contract. She disputed the claim and didn't pay the tab, causing the bill to rise to $14,182 in November, when interest was added.

In December, she said the government informed her that her wages would be garnished unless she started a repayment plan of nearly $400 a month.
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