Army Re-Enlistment and Other Bonuses

Financial Incentives for In-Demand Army Jobs

Army soldiers
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According to the Army Retention Program, Personnel readiness is a command responsibility. All commanders are retention officers, responsible to sustain Army personnel readiness by developing, implementing, and maintaining aggressive local Army retention programs designed to accomplish specific goals and missions consistent with governing laws, policies, and directives.

The goals of the Army Retention Program are to reenlist, on a long-term basis, sufficient numbers of highly qualified Active Army Soldiers in order to support end-strength and readiness requirements. Also, through monetary reward or to career development, the Army has special programs such as the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Green to Gold programs for highly qualified soldiers.

About Army Bonuses

The Army offers re-enlistment bonuses for soldiers who hold certain military occupational specialties and/or special skills, who agree to re-enlist for active duty. Whether or not a bonus is offered and the amount of money involved depends on several factors, including MOS/skill, rank, how much active duty time the soldier has, and for how long the soldier is re-enlisting.

Re-enlistment bonuses are subject to federal income tax, except when the soldier re-enlists in a designated combat zone. In that case, the entire amount of the re-enlistment bonus is tax-free. Whether or not a re-enlistment bonus is subject to state income tax depends on the laws of the individual state, that the soldier claims as his or her legal residence.

These are slightly different than retention bonuses, which is when an officer or enlisted soldier serving in a designated "critical area" agrees to extend active duty for at least a year. This kind of bonus is not generally available to soldiers who have more than 25 years of active duty or are approaching their 25th year. 

New Bonus Discussions in 2019

According to the Pentagon, bonuses of up to $40,000 are currently available, but a salary increase of $60,000 per year, and even huge bonuses of $250,000 are being considered by the Army top brass as it begins the process of looking for highly qualified infantry soldiers to do the infantry jobs of the 21st century.

Rules for Re-Enlistment Bonuses

If a soldier has completed at least 17 months but less than 14 years of active duty and is qualified in a skill the Department of Defense identifies as critical, he or she is likely eligible for re-enlistment and a corresponding bonus. The amount of bonuses and the skills most in need will vary. 

Usually, in order to be eligible to receive a bonus, soldiers will reenlist or voluntarily extend their enlistment for at least three years. 

Different Types of Army Bonuses

Besides re-enlistment bonuses, the Army offers other types of financial incentives for both new recruits and enlisted soldiers. A seasonal bonus of up to $20,000 is available for recruits who ship to basic combat training within a specific time frame. 

Soldiers who successfully complete officer candidate school (OCS) training and commissioning may be eligible for a $10,000 bonus, which they receive upon completion of OCS.

Soldiers who complete Ranger indoctrination and get permanently stationed in the 75th Ranger regiment, which is a special ops unit, may receive a bonus of up to $10,000 once they've reported for duty.

HUMINT Bonuses

Another type of bonus that the Army and other branches of the U.S. military offer, on a regular basis, is for those soldiers who enlist as a MOS 35M human intelligence (HUMINT) collector. Soldiers in this MOS conduct source operations, interrogations and debriefings to collect information. They are primarily responsible for supervising and conducting information collection operations. Among their duties include preparation of information intelligence reports, which may include difficult translations, conducting debriefings and interrogations of HUMINT sources in English and foreign languages. 

These soldiers are in demand if they speak one of the priority languages for which the Army needs translators. That list can vary but includes Arabic Modern Standard, Arabic Egyptian, Arabic Libyan, Arabic Lebanese, Arabic Moroccan, Arabic Tunisian, Arabic Iraqi, Chinese Mandarin, French, Korean, Persian-Farsi, Persian-Dari, and Russian. Bonuses for soldiers who speak at least one of these languages can be as much as $40,000.

Being in the Army as the contiuous wars from 2001 draw down may have its perks besides serving your country. The 21st battlefield is going to require highly qualified operators and they do not come cheaply.