An end-of-year veto by President George Bush has frozen bonuses paid to members of the military and recruits looking to enlist.

When Bush exercised the use of a pocket veto to nix the 2008 Defense Authorization Act, it caused the authority for Congress to issue military bonuses to expire on Jan. 1.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, stated that there would be no guarantee of a bonus for 26 different categories of special pay. Most notable among those are the reenlistment bonus and the enlistment bonus. Withington also stated in an e-mail to the Desert Dispatch that military personnel who signed a contract mentioning a bonus has to fulfill the contract even if Congress does not have authority to issue the bonus.

The freeze is temporary, Withington indicated, with members of Congress and the Department of Defense working together to make sure legislation is passed to reauthorize the bonuses. Bush's decision not to sign sweeping defense bill, which sets defense policy for the next year and authorizes $696 billion in defense spending, killed the bill until Congress reconvenes on Jan. 15.

Despite the lull in bonuses, Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Manning, a Marine Corps recruiter in Barstow, said he does not think it will have an impact on Marine Corps recruiting. He said the Marine Corps offers enlistment bonuses for many reasons, including the decision to enlist for certain jobs and high scores on enlistment tests.

Timothy Duran, 17, is a senior at Barstow High School and plans to enlist in the Navy after graduation. He said his drive to join the military was not because of money but to serve his country.

"Money doesn't matter to me," he said.

Sgt. Jeff Caskey, a spokesman for the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment, also does not think the lack of bonuses will hamper reenlistments at Fort Irwin. He said the 11th ACR hopes to increase reenlistment figures from last year by 20 percent. He said Fort Irwin's location helps.

"reenlistment for `07 is a hard act to follow, but it looks like we're on track," Caskey said. "People are reenlisting because they want to stay somewhere they like as opposed to getting a lump some of money."

Of the 535 11th ACR soldiers who reenlisted during fiscal year 2007, which ended with September, 37 did so in order to stay at Fort Irwin, Caskey said. Thirty percent of the soldiers who reenlisted in the 11th ACR received bonuses that totaled $2 million across the regiment.

The Associated Press reported that Bush decided to veto the bill because he disliked a provision that would expose the Iraqi government to expensive lawsuits seeking damages from the Saddam Hussein era.

In a statement, Bush said the legislation "would imperil billions of dollars of Iraqi assets at a crucial juncture in that nation's reconstruction efforts."

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