WASHINGTON, May 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Guard Association of the United States today released the following statement by retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the NGAUS president.
"On May 22, the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes plans to air a story on the Army's investigation of National Guard soldiers accused of fraud in connection with the discontinued Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP).
"Scrutiny of this lengthy investigation is long overdue. What the Army calls the largest investigation of fraud in the history of its Criminal Investigation Division (CID) has been largely fruitless and shameful.
"Army officials said in 2014 that Army National Guard soldiers defrauded as much as $100 million from G-RAP. Today, eight years after the investigation began, a tiny fraction of that amount has been proven. Army officials also said the program was 'illegal from the start.' This is also not true.
"Unfortunately, these sensational allegations, echoed by a Senate subcommittee, continue to ripple, sullying the reputation of every G-RAP recruiting assistant and a program that brought 149,000 soldiers into the Army National Guard while the nation was at war.
"Worse yet is the conduct of this investigation. CID had a legal duty to inform Guard leaders if individual Guardsmen were suspected of fraud. CID failed to do so for several years, denying the Guard the opportunity stop sooner the fraud that did occur.
"Thousands of Guardsmen who received G-RAP referral payments have now been investigated. Many were treated as guilty until they proved their innocence. Some, thinking they did nothing wrong, have cooperated with investigators, only to face criminal charges for minor violations of program rules that changed multiple times. Others have been under investigation for years, their careers on hold and their bank accounts depleted by legal fees while they await charges that likely will never come.
"Those in our ranks who intentionally defrauded the taxpayers deserve to be punished, but this investigation appears no longer to be about fraud. It has become an increasingly futile attempt to make ridiculous allegations seem a little less ridiculous, no matter what the cost.
"This investigation has needlessly harmed soldiers and their families. It needs to end."
About NGAUS: The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by petitioning Congress for more resources. Today, 138 years later, NGAUS has the same mission.
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SOURCE National Guard Association of the U.S.