O'Halleran Demands Immediate Halt to Clawback of AZ Servicemember Housing Allowance
Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), whose district includes the Western Army Aviation Training Site (WAATS), called on Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Major General Michael McGuire to put an immediate stop to an impending clawback of thousands of dollars from active duty servicemembers stationed at the base.
Last year, some servicemembers stationed at Silverbell Army Heliport began receiving a higher Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) benefit that reflected the location of the base. This accurately follows DoD policy that BAH is determined by geographic property location. Following this change, the state determined that the BAH should be based on the mailing address of the base and not the physical location of the base, leading to the decision to recover excess funds from servicemembers.
“What our Arizona servicemembers are facing right now in Pinal County is nothing short of a disgrace, and the state leadership has the power to resolve it immediately,” said Rep. O’Halleran after sending his request to Governor Ducey and Major General McGuire. “These brave men and women have stepped up to serve our nation, and they have earned these benefits. Their mission is to protect our communities, not fight the bureaucracy to receive benefits they are legally entitled to receive.”
National Guard servicemembers stationed at Silverbell who received the higher BAH since 2017 were notified in July that, per the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office (USPFO) of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA), their benefits would be clawed back.
In the letter, O’Halleran urged Governor Ducey and Major General McGuire to:
- Put an immediate stop to any recoupment of benefits set to take place beginning September 15th.
- Correct the determination by the state that BAH is based on a mailing address to ensure every eligible soldier receives their fair and accurate BAH to which they are entitled moving forward.
- Reimburse any recoupment that has taken place or takes place in the near future as a result of the incorrect initial determination.
- Ensure soldiers whose DA-5960’s were not processed at the time USPFO placed a pause to investigate whether the change was legitimate receive the difference in BAH benefits they should have received along with those whose forms had been processed.
“If action is not taken swiftly by the state, I am prepared to introduce legislation to end these unlawful clawbacks,” continued O’Halleran. “Our servicemembers are not at fault here. They should not be expected to forfeit their rightfully received housing benefits and forced to apply for financial hardship waivers. They deserve better treatment than this.”
O’Halleran is also sending a letter today to General Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, ensuring NGB is doing everything it can to work with the state to correct the issue.
Read the full letter here.