Today on CNN Newsroom

The latest news and information from around the world. Also connect with CNN through social media. We want to hear from you.
June 9th, 2010
09:38 AM ET

THE MYSTERY BILL

A former Oregon National guard soldier, shot in Iraq, has a $3,000 bill from the military. Gary Pfleider is still not sure exactly what the bill is for. He said he originally thought the government was trying to make him pay for gear he left in Iraq after being shot. But now, he says the military is telling him it’s not about the missing equipment he left behind, but instead about being overpaid from his last few months in the military. Pfleider says a defense finance and accounting service spokesman told him he was overpaid from July, 2008 to September, 2008. Pfleider says he didn’t get any notices about being overpaid before the $3,000 bill arrived. The military says they can’t discuss the billing because of privacy issues. So we wanted to know, do you think this Iraq War veteran, who was disabled in the line of duty, should be forced to pay back this money?

Post your responses to this blog, and we’ll read some of them on CNN Newsroom at 10am ET.


Filed under: Kyra Phillips • What the...?
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Egberto

    We love to say we honor our troops and country first. Unfortunately those are just words. We pay them little and when they come back we just want them, their illness, and their experiences out of sight. It is sad. Why should anyone serve.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  2. Bill from Rotonda West FL

    I feel the vet should at least get the benefit of the doubt, not the bean counters. Being a vet, I find it strange and insulting that they are going after this Purple Heart vet. He is the guy that was placed in harms way. He paid his dues. Perhaps his congressmen should step up to the plate and go to bat for this vet.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  3. Mechell

    Got to love how the big guys in office treat those who fight for everything we have here in the U.S.A. He takes a bullet and we send him a bill. This makes me wonder if everyone fighting for our freedom is sent a bill for getting hurt or even worse killed over there? I really think we should be the ones sending out bills. Those who fight and lose body parts or worse life should send bills for the loss. If someone loses a limb of sight or other vital body parts this means they are no longer a whole person and should be compensated for the loss. If a person is killed the that goes without saying they will never have a full life so yes lets send bills to the officals to pay for injured or killed soliders that fight for them to have the right to shaft the very ones who protect thses dumb asses.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  4. Willem glas

    Hey. This sounds dutch. It is very easy that sokeone servedn this way his country should not pay this back.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  5. Greg, Ontario

    If you take care of your Vets like we do he won't want for anything medicle for the rest of his life. Why should he get money he wasn't entitled to? What does that say to all the others who served, were wounded and got no extra money? Everyone knows what their paycheck should look like and he took the money knowing full well it wasn't right. That erases any moral honors he might have earned while in uniform and in fact dishonored the very uniform he faught in.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  6. Christie Abraham

    I was so upset when I heard your story I called The White House. The staff that takes the messages are less than professional. I had to ask if she wanted the person's name that I was calling about. At first she thought I knew him. I gave her the info; she didn't ask for my name. I finally found the story online from KVAL and emailed that to President Obama (I couldn't find the story on CNN). It's appalling. I've never called the White House in my life but was so disgusted that the military would go after a wounded vet for $3,000. They spend that on a toilet.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  7. Keith L

    Kyra, I think the Nat'l Guard is looking to collect the $3000 from the wrong person. They should be going after the person that made the mistake that caused this hero to be overpaid. This guy should have been overpaid for his injuries anyway.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  8. Jimmy

    If wasn't for that young man's courage we would be without hope I am a retired vet and this is a crap debt for him.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  9. James Z.

    I don't think he he should have to pay back the money. It would wrong to make him pay it. He should be congratulated and thanked for his service to his country, not harassed and made to pay money.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  10. guillermo vasquez

    I think this bill is atrocious! First they the military waits to notify him and then they can not explain why because of privacy issues? What is wrong with the military and government to allow this to happen. Here we soldiers dying for a country for very little pay, while we have professional athletes demanding millions so they can get drunk, arrested, do immoral acts and violent crimes like is no big deal. OMG!

    June 9, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  11. john harbour

    all service men and women deserve the world from those of us that never have to deal with the nightmares that they face– not the treatment this vet is receiving–

    June 9, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  12. Karla D Golay

    It's outragous.

    I'm a 60% disabled veteran with no combat time, no combat medals, nothing that would overly distinguish me from the rest of my fellow NCOs, enlisted or officers. Once my claim was finally approved the Army and subsequently the VA have never failed me from the beginning of my disability incurred before entrance into the armed forces or afterwards when those same disabilities were aggrevated while in the line of duty.

    I can see the Army Guard charging for missing gear, even while trying to clear for discharge....but two years after they took a jihadist bullet outa me ?..............I don't think so because he has already cleared, this has to be a paperwork snafu.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  13. Charlie

    You see this kind of thing all the time. Some person gets a bug up their butt about something and then they try everything to cause the maximum amount of aggervation to the person they are focused on.

    I saw a local piece the other day where some school system wouldn't a seinor participate in her graduaction because her job training schedule conflicted with her graduaction practice.

    Or a township neighbor hood gets upset with a church because they try to help the homelss and they send in the Fire inspectors and write up all kinds of violations that cost a fortune to correct.

    It's just Wrong! Thanks for being Robin Hood!

    June 9, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  14. D Mckee

    This isn't the first time a soldier has sacrificed for our country and our freedom and the government (YES,they are controlled by our government) finds ways to charge them for doing as much. Sadly we have a President that cant even honor the soldier's who gave the ultimate sacrifice and now lie in the Arlington National Cemetery.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  15. Jay

    I can't believe how the military is treating this wounded vet who served honorably. It seems as though some bean counters have lost the meaning that our veterans put themselves in harms way on a daily basis to defend this country. The military should forgive whatever debt they think is owed to them and provide this vet with whatever services are needed to rehabilitate and reintegrate back into society. He deserves thanks from our country, not bills for his service.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  16. JD Bedsole

    That aoldier absolutely should NOT be made to pay that alleged bill. If Accounting And Finance can overpay him due to some mysterious
    "Mistake" , then they can just as easily make the mistake of being wrong in their claim that he was overpaid. TWO YEARS is a totally and ridiculously long time to suddenly discover this, assuming it is true. What about the basic practices of "Cross And Cross-Check" in accounting. Why was it not found immediately, not two years later ?. The one and only way he is going to not pay this is, if his congressional representative gets it cancelled as it well should have already been. No soldier deserves this kind of treatment, much less this particular soldier. If we can pay billions and billions of taxpayer dollars every month to millions of "illegal immigrants", then why can't we have this travesty of justice rectified.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  17. Oscar

    If anything, the military owe HIM money. He sacrificed his life for his country and he gets a bill for it? If he was overpaid, he earned it.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  18. Carrie

    Kyra,

    I had much the same problem when I needed to file for disability from the Department of the Army. While I was a civilian and not military, during the time it took for them to complete disability approval process the payroll department kept changing my status and messing with my leave to the point where I was surprised to get a letter that said I had a $3100 debt with no explanation of why. I called the number listed to figure it out and that customer service department did not know why and furthermore had few subjections for me. I did get a call from another person who also had no explanation but said you better start making payments or it will damage my credit. I finally decided that it was not worth messing with the government even though they did not give me a full explanation and started to make payments. But even more distressing is that when I call to make sure periodically that they have received my payments they have no idea where part of them are, even though my bank said that their department cashed them. I think I will just pay what they say I owe and count on their lack of accounting to not know the difference.

    Carrie

    June 9, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  19. Brian Lamontagne

    Just a quick note from an ex Canadian Navy Nav Rad Op just having missed the Falklands War... To call it "appalling" that the US military is focusing on trivial issues of the sort would be an understatement. Having taken a bullet for his country only to then be recoursed for an apparent misplaced lunchpail that he neglected to return to "stores" while entoute to MIR ? Clearly the I/C of this circus of an incident gives "morons" a bad name while undoubtedly holding the IQ of a "lunchpail" himself.... Hang in there and stay the course Gary ! From us Canadians who are behind you 110 % !!!

    June 9, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  20. David

    Ok, this is simple. But don't allow the fact that this Soldier received a Purple Heart for sustaining wounds in combat blur the fact that he owes money. I served in the Army for over 20 years and I am also a Combat Veteran. I retired 5 years after serving in Combat and also received a bill for overpayment. The bill was for over $2000.00. I went through the DFAS process for fighting the bill and after paying a due amount monthly for 6 months I received a check reimbursing me the money I paid plus extra for money owed me. Lets not just quickly jump to the "Purple Heart Vet getting mistreated" story. This Soldier may indeed owe money. If not, it will get resolved in his favor. Also remember that he stated that He received diciplinary action in the past most likely an Article 15. He may owe money for this Article 15 that the army failed to garnish in a timely manner which would account for an overpayment. If he indeed got overpayed, Purple Heart or not, he owes the money. This is now a Country full of Combat Veterans, we all are not owed special consideration when it comes to owing money. Be carefull how much of this Koolaid you drink.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  21. Emilio

    Very intresting story. Welcome to American Communism, Where you’re good to go in the military but at the end how can we (The Military) screw you for good you know …. That’s the new way to say thank you in the Satanists mentality. This story runs parallel with the Navy Seal that punch an Iraqi terrorist in the stomach. Yes we the American Military protect the terrorists and punish our people. Welcome to American Satanerium … of course they won’t tell you that in your face, you have to read between the lines. What an evil people? And letter they run for political offices promising the world and deliver the same passion that they spread all over till they got there. You see that’s how some one will get a rank by polishing his shoes on some one else’s expense. I honestly believe that the soldier is telling the honest truth and he has no reason to lie. I’m very sure that if the soldier would get killed in battle that would be very good and the military would proudly pronounce so called the sadness over the loss of an American life. I work with the military I see a lots of those communist ideas that they are pushing down the poor soldiers thought. All in the lie of: You’re serving the people of USA. What a communist lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Lets face it the every one with a low rank is there to be used and abused so some one else to get credit. This system in USA is not much different than the Soviet system. Let’s be honest. Is just a different flavor but the same garbage. God bless and protect all the Military personnel.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  22. Voni

    I just can't imagine that ANY US soldier/service man/woman... especially an injured, decorated one, could possibly be overpaid. Any soldier that has been injured/maimed should be paid at least hundreds of thousands of dollars (–really far more–how can you put a value on having your body permantly injured (or loss of life) but the US doesn't have unlimited funds..). But there is NO WAY that they should be hassled by the military to pay back a few thousands for equipment or wages. RIDICULOUS!

    Many of the heros have had their lives permanently damaged either financially or mentally or??? Please tell me how a man willing to die for his country can be overpaid!!!??? Democrats AND Republicans agree that the military are heros. We can surely agree that they deserve more... The Vietnam Vets still need to be given the recognition they deserve. Whether the war is right or wrong is not the issue. The men (women) are still heros willing to defend/fight for our country. They are sent where the leaders send them and they risk their lives to do their best. It takes a very brave person. I couldn't do it. I really appreciate that we have men that are brave enough. They deserve way more than anyone else... sports stars for example...

    Perhaps Halliburton and other personages that made tons of money at the expense of our country.... should be giving all soldiers a major bonus.....

    June 9, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  23. Shannon

    It is shameful how we repay our soldiers that risk their lives for us.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  24. Butch from Southgate Mi

    The military has the ability to turn a good situation into a terrible one. The guy that counts the beans needs to be held accountable not the vet that was wounded in the line. There seems to be a never ending supply of BS in the military. I served back in the 60's and 70's, I see that nothing has changed except the names.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  25. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    It sounds like a disbursing clerk with sticky fingers I had a run in with one of those you might as well count your losses the military is always right and the peons are wrong .

    June 9, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  26. Christopher Mallory

    This man is an American Hero and should be honored as such. He took a bullet in defense of his country. The military pencil pushers that sent him the bill should be ashamed of themselves! This is how they repay our selfless soldiers? I am offering and will gladly pay this bill for him in an effort to thank him for his service!!! CNN PLEASE send me any details I may need to accomplish this for him. He needs to heal and not be burdened with this nonsense and thanks again for stepping up and your service to the country.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  27. Dan

    I really like Bill's idea above (from Rotonda West FL); however, I would take it one step further.
    I think if this soldier's congressman didn't step up to the plate and go to bat for this heroic soldier, then the congressman's wages should be garnished as well.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  28. Bill from Rotonda West FL

    Just another point to consider. Over the span of the last few years, it is likely that he has paid his federal taxes on the overage that the bean counters say he was paid. That would mean he would have to file an amended return in addition to paying back the contended amount. Given that it was not the vets fault that he was overpaid (this is still a contended issue), at an absolute minimum the idiot beancounters that screwed this up should pay to have his return amended. Then those idiots should reprimanded and a letter of apology sent to the vet. I still feel that the vet should not have to pay the contended amount back. Its that simple!

    June 9, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  29. gary

    I am trying to understand why the millitary changed the way they pay our service men and women from when i served. Back then we had a paper pay stub and from the get go we knew exactly what we made even if we had a direct deposit we still got a pay stub with item by item lines. Then for them to tell him right off it was for missing gear after almost 2 years. Things have changed so much in the last 40 years it is hard for me to grasp this in any right or wrong way. When i mustered out it took almost 2 weeks to clear bouncing from building to building on base and finance took the longest and when they stamp that piece of paper that says cleared thats it end of story.

    I have seen the papers from the direct deposit on this young mans back statements and it looks like a big mess in one month they made 8 deposits to his account so how the hell do they expect a soldier to keep track of his pay if they do this? I guess i sould also note that I am the father of this yopung man a disabled Vietnam Vet myself. Thank you all who have served or are serving for what you belive in.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  30. Mike in Scottsdale

    Go collect the money from the per diem the lawmakers do not use and get to keep.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  31. Nancy

    Kira,
    Assuming this vet. was discharged; and the discharge "honorable" he had to complete: all contractual obligations to the military. Prior to being cleared from "current command" @ that time;
    he would have been obligated to "check-out" @ multiple areas within "current command."
    That is the military check-out system and has been for quiet some time. This veteran did what he was asked, or required, and obligated to complete. The military has a system of checks & balance in place to protect our military and our veterans from fraud or graft.

    According to Govn't records does this vet. owe money for equipment issued to him
    or "over payment of wages" ? Matters not the reason for the request for payment, my government,had their opportunity to resolve this issue. Apparently the check-out method failed to operate and mistakes occurred.

    This veteran cannot and should not ask for "his life back" prior to sustaining a gunshot wound, so......neither can my govn't ask him to reimburse the military for 3000.00 . Looks to me that the govn't will still come out ahead of the game. Suggest we (govn't) take our 3000.00 "bill" tear it up and call the score even. No instant replay needed in or on the Battlefield. That is why our govn't issues an Honorable discharge to our honorable veterans.

    I will offer alternative solution. Send the bill to me. I will gladly make payments until obligation is met.
    I work to pay my bills, own a place to live, enjoy life with some family members, no vacations in my financial future for some years to come.
    I am 58 y/o, I am American, I am veteran (USN nurse), I am widow, and a proud parent of a Marine.

    CWO2 Nancy

    June 9, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  32. Bob

    Hell no, the veteran should not owe anything. That is the reward for serving his country, and to add insult to injury the veteran is disabled. Has our government gone completely out of their minds? This is a total disgrace to our troops and our whole military corp, who server their country and put their lives on the line every day to protect our country and our freedom. But our government will give carte blanche to illegals in this country. What a total disgrace and a slap in the face to all of our troops who willing server this country. Our country gives aid to other countries that want to destroy America. I am totally disgusted and fed up with such actions by our own government.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  33. Army Wife

    This is a very sad story because many similar situations like this happen quite often. My husband, who is in the Army for seven years, had this happen to him about a year ago when he was PCS to this new post. During his in-process to his new post he was told by Finance he owed the Army about $4,000 due about a year ago. He immediately contacted Finance personnel from the previous post, where he was informed that he was accidentally overpaid for a few paychecks along with interest accrued. All this was because of his move from off-post housing to on-post housing. He was never told this during his out-processing in his previous post (notwithstanding the fact that it should have been mentioned immediately). This should have been discovered because any soldier clearing out of a post goes through numerous laborious steps to wrap-up any dues. In my opinion, this is due to the lackadaisical contracted staff that the Army employs. Mistakes are made constantly and swept under the rug as long as possible because the majority of the staff does not care about their job and they know that when the mistakes are discovered, the consequences do not lie upon them but on the soldiers.

    My husband commenting on the issue said that his two tours in Iraq never caused as much trouble as this problem nor the times when he must interact with the rude unappreciative staff. Mr. Pleider’s situation is horrible and I commend him for bringing his issue to light so that, hopefully, the Military will correct his problem and in a grander scale, prevent this altogether.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  34. Bill from Rotonda West FL

    CWO Nancy,

    Not sure how I we would handle payment, but put me down for half.

    However, since the gov is treating this thing subjectively, it is clear that it would be pointless for them to pursue this matter since it would likely cost more than $3000 to recover. It would be like cutting off their nose to spite their face. Time to show them that I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore. Time to get real!

    Ex Navy Vet (Vietname Era)

    June 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  35. David

    LOL, If bags of cash fall out the back of an Armored Truck and you picked it up and kept it, you should be prosecuted. If you are a Veteran, its just probably money owed to you anyways. Love all the comments, no wonder this country is in such bad shape.

    June 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  36. Randy

    Thats the goverment for you they try to bone you every way they can send to obama

    June 9, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  37. Carl

    It should be his to keep without exception.

    June 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  38. Ed

    There's an old saying that the first reports aren't always true. I've been led to believe there may be more to this story. Perhaps the producer should try and get a hold of the solidier in question and see what he's saying today instead of relying on a local TV story which ran a few days ago.

    June 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  39. Diana in Bellevue

    Veteran or not, I find it difficult to get over the fact he received $1000 extra each month for three months and didn't notify anyone there might be an issue. Maybe he was hoping no one would be the wiser, and he'd get to keep the money. Not the kind of integrity I'd hope for out of our armed services.

    Even if he honestly didn't notice he was paid $1000 more than expected for three consecutive months, if the military has proof that it was indeed an overpayment, the moral high ground for this Vet dictates it should be repaid.

    Whether you're employed was the US government or some local body shop in town, if you're overpaid by your employer, the money was never yours, no matter how much you feel justified in taking it.

    June 9, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  40. Rock

    Blew my mind when I heard this story. So what if he was overpaid!! I think he was under paid. How do you put a price on the protection of freedom??

    June 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  41. Jae

    As a finance officer in the Army, this happens to a low percentage of Soldiers who separate from the military. The time to collect the debt (if it is valid) is before he/she separates. If the Soldier owes the money for equipment he lost or if he was overpaid, then he owes the money. He got compensated for his time in the military.

    I do find it hard to believe that someone lacks the common sense and foresight that attempting to even collect this debt could result in debacle broadcasted on the news. Not to mention the government has probably devoted way more than $3k in resources (i.e work hours, congressional inquiries, media inquiries, etc.) so what's the point in dragging this guy through another hardship?

    June 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  42. TammyB

    Since I don't think they get paid enough, I would say "no" he shouldn't have to pay it back. Call it "danger pay" but don't give someone who just risked his life in service to this country a bogus bill like this! The Government ought to be ashamed for even sending it to him!

    June 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  43. lila

    I don't why the veteran should pay back any thing, he served his country,and he is disabled.They owe him as far as I am concerned.No he shouldn't pay it back.

    June 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  44. Jeryl D

    Should he have to pay it back? NO! We owe our men and women in uniform far more than we can afford to pay them.

    June 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  45. Phillip Larchevesque

    Sure, people make mistakes.
    But, this kind of mismanagement of an active service members wages is not only insulting, it's CLASSIC bureaucratic fumbling of responsibility.
    With no one having the guts to "stand-up" for the mistake, perhaps if they were disabled, they might understand what the RIGHT-thing is they should do.
    This bill should be excused without reservation.

    June 9, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  46. nono

    although it makes me so angry, I'm not surprised; i work for the government and have seen this kind of issues before where the financing sector claims that one has been "overpaid" and can go as far as having all your wages held until the overpayment has been completed and there's nothing you can do about it (believe me we have tried). What really stinks about this situation is that the people affected are the same ones that are risking their lives in the line of duty,and if you ask me, they are not well compensated to begin with.

    June 9, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
  47. SFC

    We as Soldiers know when there is something wrong with our pay. It is annolized monthly and there are people that you can go to in order to find out what the pay is about. There is a set pay for every situation and every rank. Once you see something unusual about your normal pay (LES), you have every opportunity to get it fixed. Yes if you wait of course the GOV will wait but you can be sure that they will get theirs in return. It has nothing to do with being a VET, your a Soldier and you know the right procedure.

    June 10, 2010 at 6:14 am |
  48. John Tyler Erie, Pa

    If he had been under paid would the government have sent him a check? I doubt it.

    June 10, 2010 at 8:01 am |
  49. Dwight

    I saw this report and video on CNN the other day. I was furious. It is shameful that our government sends a bill 2 years after the fact to a disabled veteran whose leg was shot up pretty badly and will probably walk with a bad limp and cane the rest of his life. He is in this state because our country placed him in harm's way, he fought for all of us. He is already paying a dear price. Do we need to make him pay more? Army finance, write-off the $3000, you won't even notice it missing, and let this wounded warrior alone. I intend to bring this matter to my Congressman, Duncan Hunter Jr, an ex-Marine. I think he will see the shame in this action and hopefully help put a stop to it.

    June 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  50. Mr. & Mrs. SPC Daniel Sillivent

    I am replying with upmost respect to the military ; however I know that some things need to change. My husband was deployed to Iraq and returned home this yr in Feb. We never received a bill but we were notified that he was overpaid while overseas for a few months. The Army deducted a few thousand dollars from his paycheck for a couple of months bc they made a mistake with his finances. Things need to change bc it put a financial burden on us when this happened. This individual should not have to pay back anything...

    June 11, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  51. Mr.Eister

    He has his DD214, and 201 file. He CLEARED FINANCE, and they SIGNED him out as good to go. If ANY 'alleged" moneies was owed, they would have deducted it from his seperation pay. Now if this "alleged" bill is an overpayment due an article 15, or any other punishment (reduction in rank etc...) that wasn't paid before seperation, THEN it's a legitimate bill. If it's a charge for leaving his gear behind when he was wounded, and they shipped him out as a casualty, then that's on the government, not him.

    June 11, 2010 at 4:23 pm |