Army rolls out new reenlistment bonuses

Spc. Eugene Bromberg, left with hand raised, is led in the oath of reenlistment by his commanding officer Capt. Even Dimakas in Poptun, Guatemala, on July 15. The two are flanked by fellow infantrymen from B Company, 182nd Infantry Regiment, and Guatemalan Kaiblies. Blomberg, who immediately bonded with the Guatemalan Special Forces soldiers, asked that they be included in his reenlistment ceremony.

WASHINGTON – Effective Sept. 9, Soldiers willing to reenlist in some of the Army’s most in-demand career fields have the chance to receive up to $81,000 in lump-sum bonuses. It is the highest incentive amount offered in more than five years, officials recently announced.

A CASCOM Facebook post confirmed that many sustainment occupations – including 89D, 91A, 91H, 91M, 91P, 91S, 92R, 94H, 94M, 94P, 94S and 94T, as well as airborne and special operations billets – are eligible for incentive payments. Those re-upping for longer commitments or reclassifying into needed fields may also qualify for a bonus.

“Reenlistment bonuses are reviewed continuously, and encourage long-term retention of Soldiers going into or staying in critical fields,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark Thompson, senior Army career counselor. 

In other words, the Army is investing heavily in its people, he noted, with hopes they will continue their investment in the Army. 

The payouts are based on critical skills and selective retention. The Selective Retention Bonus program is designed to incentivize Soldiers to maintain their current military occupational specialty or reclassify into another MOS based on demands for the individual jobs.

Understanding not every Soldier will commit to longer terms, to sweeten the offer, last year the Army instituted the ability for Soldiers to extend their service versus reenlisting. 

“We’re incentivizing the longer-term commitments without taking away the ability for Soldiers to choose shorter-term commitments, too,” Thompson said. 

These efforts have directly impacted the “historically high retention rates” the Army is currently experiencing, Thompson added. At least 82 percent of eligible Soldiers have already reenlisted in fiscal 2019.

“The Army is experiencing unprecedented success in the retention program due in large part to engaged leaders and professionally developed career counselors,” Thompson said, adding, “The Army continuously evaluates the current enlisted strengths with future projections to establish precision incentives.”

Although retention is at a historic high, the Army still needs to fill certain fields. The price tag actually creates a cost-effective solution to fill those positions internally, Thompson explained. 

“Investing in Soldiers with critical skills – such as cyber, intelligence, Special Forces, etc. – helps meet the retention needed to strengthen the Army’s ability to size, shape and stabilize its force,” he said. 

Bonuses are categorized into tiers, one through 10, with the latter having the largest payout. Examples of top-tier fields include cyber and Special Forces. One of the smallest bonuses would occur with an individual in tier one, who may receive $1,000 for extending his or her service through a reenlistment of 12-23 months. 

On the other hand, for example, a staff sergeant wishing to move into, or currently in, a tier 10 MOS, may become eligible for the maximum payout with an extension of service by at least five years. The Army will match increased commitment with increased bonus amounts.

The intent of the SRB tier changes is to appropriately incentivize long-term reenlistments, Thompson said. For example, a cavalry scout sergeant on the old SRB message would get $7,800 for a six-year reenlistment; the new SRB Message will give the same Soldier $9,900 – an increase of $2,100.

Bonus amounts depend upon a Soldier’s primary MOS, rank, time in service with skill identifiers, or reclassification into high-demand careers. However, individuals reclassifying will receive payment upon completion of training.

Another retention and job-reclassification incentive is location stabilization. Soldiers who reenlist for a location-specific bonus will be stabilized for a minimum of 24 months (12 months if reenlisting for a short tour area) unless otherwise directed. 

Investing in Soldiers is nothing new for the Army, Thompson said, adding, “The chief of staff's No. 1 priority is people, and we are investing in that priority.”

This is the sixth bonus message this fiscal year, with rates in 85 skills increasing, 88 decreasing, and 671 not changing. 

Infantrymen, who have six SRB variations across four skill levels, and five different reenlistment terms, could be eligible for hundreds of possible bonus variations among multiple MOSs. Moreover under the new guidelines, roughly 45 percent of Army personnel are eligible for a potential payday for reenlisting.

“The Army consistently reviews structure and projected strength requirements, and releases bonus messages as necessary,” Thompson said. 

Soldiers with questions pertaining to bonuses and eligibility requirements should contact their servicing career counselors.