The federal government is trying to recoup enlistment bonuses given erroneously to thousands of California soldiers despite routinely allowing poor-performing VA employees to keep their bonus checks.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the Pentagon demanded that thousands of California soldiers repay bonuses they were given to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense Department asked the soldiers to repay the bonuses, which amounted to $15,000 or more each, after audits revealed they were overpaid by the California National Guard.

But the practice stands in contrast with that of the Obama administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs, which has failed to take back hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to high-ranking bureaucrats who have been scrutinized for bad behavior or poor management.

For instance, the VA said last year it would not collect over $400,000 in bonuses paid to two senior executives who manipulated the agency’s hiring system to take new jobs with less responsibility and receive relocation benefits. The VA, which acknowledged that the employees abused the system, said it did not have the legal authority to recoup the money.

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