Hundreds of Minnesota soldiers left waiting for federal bonus

Hundreds of Minnesota National Guard soldiers have been left waiting for federal bonus checks, with some saying they’ve gone without a large portion of their salary for more than a year.

"I was supposed to get the second payout of my bonus 16 months ago and I still have not received it," said one soldier who wanted to remain anonymous. "When I inquire about this to leadership, I get the response that they’re just behind in bonuses but they can’t provide an explanation as to why."

The soldier says while everyone’s contract is different, the federal bonus is a significant portion of their pay. They estimate 30 to 40 percent of their unit is waiting on checks.

"I’ve talked to people within my unit and I’ve talked to people within different units across the state and they all have the same problem. And they all get the same response from their unit leadership." 

The Minnesota National Guard told Fox 9 the delay in payment is due to a software glitch, saying they started to experience issues in October 2020 when Adobe Flash was discontinued.

"Guard leadership used manual payments as a solution over the last two years; however, this process required extensive vetting to determine eligibility for payment," Lt. Col. Kristen Augé said in a statement to Fox 9. "In some very isolated cases, service members have experienced delays of more than one year due to software changes, but this is not typical for most delayed payments."

Augé said they currently have less than 350 bonus requests to process, and of these, more than 155 are scheduled for payment within the next 60 days.

While this soldier says they enjoy serving, its made them rethink signing another contract.

"Nobody wants to work for free," they said. "You re-enlist and they say, ‘hey we’re going to give you a bonus’ and then don’t give it to you, well then what’s the point of re-enlisting?"