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PENTAGON HALTS REQUESTS FOR REFUNDS

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The Defense Department has suspended its request that overpaid gulf war veterans return some of the home maintenance allowance they received for the month in which they returned home, officials said Friday.

Defense Department Comptroller Sean O'Keefe issued a memorandum Oct. 18 suspending the requests for about $40 million from nearly 50,000 soldiers in all branches of the armed forces, said Rep. Frank McCloskey, D-Ind."We won't send any more notices and to avoid any unfairness, veterans who owe money won't be charged penalties until we decide what to do with this," said Jean Marie Ward, spokeswoman for the Defense Finance Center in Washington.

The veterans began receiving notices Oct. 10, informing them of the overpayments and outlining the terms of repayment.

The overpayments involved bachelors quarters allowances, paid to soldiers to cover their home mortgage or rent while they are on duty elsewhere.

O'Keefe and other officials will decide how to handle the overpayments.