Guard asks members to return unauthorized bonus pay

2013-07-10T05:00:00Z 2014-09-10T09:31:56Z Guard asks members to return unauthorized bonus payJoe O'Sullivan Journal staff Rapid City Journal
July 10, 2013 5:00 am  • 

Three Black Hills mayors are complaining after local National Guard members have been told to return bonus pay they mistakenly received.

Some members of the 842nd Engineering Company were notified in March that they had been overpaid and were told not to spend the money; in June they received instructions on how to pay back the money.

But Lead Mayor Jerry Apa along with Spearfish Mayor Dana Boke and Deadwood Mayor Chuck Turbeville drafted a letter expressing frustration about how the problem was rectified.

"After more than two months of no communication on the matter many (guard members) assumed the money was theirs, many began paying bills, making purchases, etc.," the letter, sent to the Journal, reads.

The mayors described the letter sent in June to Guard members to collect the money as "very cold with neither a token apology for the mistake nor a reason for the delay in notifying the affected personnel."

"I think somebody should be making apologies to these men, who didn't need this," Apa said Tuesday.

Apa said he'd like to see the Guard work with individuals to develop payment plans, rather than offering standard plans that allow only a handful of options, including immediate full payment or collecting 20 percent of members' paychecks until the money is repaid.

The pay itself is a special compensation bonus for Guard members who deploy again before taking an allotted rest period between deployments, according to Maj. Anthony Deiss, a spokesman for the South Dakota National Guard. Guard members accrue one payment day for every month of service that infringes on the allotted rest period.

Deiss said he does not know how many Guard members were overpaid.

The 842nd has been busy. The company was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. In 2011, some of the company's 160 members were called from training for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan to work against the Missouri River flood waters at Pierre and Fort Pierre. The 842nd deployed to Afghanistan later that year, where it built a forward operating base.

In the past couple months, part of the company helped build an archery shooting range in Yankton while others constructed a mock Afghan village near Belle Fourche for the U.S. Air Force.

Deiss said the miscalculation was made in the Guard's local personnel office and was caught by another local office and corrected.

"It's money they're not authorized to have. They're not entitled to it," Deiss said. "We tried to get the word out ahead of time to make sure they don't spend this money."

In one case, the overpayment amounted to $4,400, according to a letter sent to one Guard member and obtained by the Journal. The Guard member was calculated as being owed for 23 days when the Guard member was only owed for one day, according to the letter.

Mistakes like these have happened in the past, and Deiss said he was overpaid in one instance last year.

"It was a mistake; the guy entered my orders wrong," he said. "It happens."



Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or

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(7) Comments

  1. Kurth70
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    Kurth70 - July 11, 2013 2:11 pm
    It doesnt matter how sugar caoted and nice the letters or notifications were. We all know how much we get paid every week, the military is no different. I did 20 years, I know. There were errors all the time of overpayment, especially when deplyments were involved. They should have never spent the money, period. If a bank accidentally puts money into yur account thats yours and you spend it...shame on you. This is no different. Poor judgement by the soldiers who spent it. Heck even now that I am retired and have used my GI Bill for college, there have been over payments. The system isnt perfect when humans input the information. However, I have always disliked the approach the government has taken when they make a mistake or we owe them money back. They want it right now! But when they owe us money and it was their mistake, it takes months to get our back pay. Regardless, they got money they shouldnt have, spent it when they shouldnt have and have to pay it back and stop boohooing about it, how they were notified and the bluntness of it. Its the military, not preschool.
  2. Joe O'Sullivan Staff
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    Joe O'Sullivan - July 11, 2013 1:51 pm
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, guys.
  3. Cruiser
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    Cruiser - July 10, 2013 12:32 pm
    Heather1085, get a clue. You are obviously in the 1085th or have been. You know that payroll people only pay what personnel authorizes. Read the article again and you will see that personnel made the mistake.
  4. purchased
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    purchased - July 10, 2013 11:21 am
    Jason: You mean if you received a extra 4400.00 on your
    pay check you wouldn't think somethings wrong. Come-on now!
  5. Jason
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    Jason - July 10, 2013 9:55 am
    You claim that the men knew, but can you cite any evidence of that? It sounds like The Nation Guard has a complicated system for bonus pay. I would imagine would be very difficult to figure out just exactly how much is due in a given situation, after any tax, etc. Heck, I have gotten varying pay checks at work because insurance rate changes, 401k changes, etc., and I have a hard to figuring out exactly what I should be getting.

    On top of all of that these men and women aren't paid to be accountants. However, the people doing the payroll are.

    This action brings dishonor onto those that made the pay error, and most importantly, the brass that think so little of their troops and are so petty as to ask this money back in such a blunt fashion.
  6. Heather1085
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    Heather1085 - July 10, 2013 9:50 am
    Maybe they should hire people who know how to do payroll better. P
  7. purchased
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    purchased - July 10, 2013 8:01 am
    These men new they were over paid when they received the why
    would they think it was there's. These men aren't stupid. The guard doesn't have
    to sugar coat it when they asked for it back. They just need to return it. Simple
    as that.
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