Effective Sept. 9, Soldiers willing to reenlist in some of the Army’s most in-demand careers have the chance to receive up to $81,000 in lump-sum bonuses — the highest amount in more than five years, officials announced Aug. 27.
In addition to critical fields, this latest announcement also offers a wide range of cash options for Soldiers re-upping for longer commitments, or reclassifying into needed fields.
“Reenlistment bonuses are reviewed continuously, and encourage long-term retention of Soldiers going into or staying in critical skills,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark Thompson, the senior Army career counselor.
In other words, he added, the Army is investing heavily in its people, with hopes that they 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% of eligible Soldiers have already reenlisted in fiscal year 2019.
“The Army is experiencing an unprecedented success in the retention program due in large part from 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 added.
“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 their service through reenlistment 12-23 months.
On the other hand, for example, a staff sergeant wishing to move into, or currently in, a tier 10 MOS, and extends service by at least five years may become eligible for the maximum payout.
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; this is 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 example of bonuses includes 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.
Another example is infantrymen, who have six different SRB variations across four different skill levels, and five different reenlistment terms, creating hundreds of possible bonus variations across multiple MOSs. In addition, roughly 45% of the Army is eligible for a potential payday for many reenlisting Soldiers.
“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.