Military Life Resources Benefits & Pay

National Guard restarts reenlistment bonuses ahead of schedule

The program halted on March 1 and was initially expected to be paused for at least a month.
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U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Vankirk with the 96th Troop Command, Washington National Guard, briefs a land navigation course during the state Best Warrior Competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash, March 5, 2022. In addition to land navigation, the competition consisted of an Army Combat Fitness Test, board panel, written essay, qualification range, stress shoot, and tactical ruck march. The winning Soldier and NCO—Spc. Eric Smith with 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery, and Staff Sgt. Stormy White with Recruiting and Retention Battalion—will go on to represent Washington in the Region VI Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition this Spring. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Adeline Witherspoon) U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Vankirk with the 96th Troop Command, Washington National Guard, briefs a land navigation course during the state Best Warrior Competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash, March 5, 2022. (U.S. Army National Guard/Sgt. Adeline Witherspoon)

Army National Guard soldiers can once again get their bonuses when they reenlist, after a brief pause in the program.

The National Guard Bureau announced the restart of the Army National Guard Selected Reserve Incentives Program in a March 8 internal memo to guardsmen. The National Guard confirmed the authenticity of the memo to Task & Purpose after it was posted to social media. The change was effective immediately. 

A week ago the National Guard announced via memorandum that it was suspending reenlistment bonuses as of March 1. Anyone who signed a reenlistment contract on or after that date and would normally be paid the bonus in the the 2024 or 2025 fiscal years would not receive the money. A National Guard official told Task & Purpose shortly after the initial suspension that the problem was the reenlistment bonus had proven so popular that the National Guard had not properly budgeted for the amount of bonuses it would need to pay. The temporary pause, the official said, was so the National Guard could “assess fiscal resources that will determine when we can resume offering new bonuses.”

The National Guard expected to work out the issues relatively quickly, but the March 8 restart of the bonus program is well ahead of schedule. In the first memo, the National Guard Bureau said that it anticipated having the matter sorted in April. It turns out the issue was resolved much quicker.

“A funding solution has been identified that has permitted the suspension to be lifted early and the retention bonus was reinstated effective March 8,” the National Guard said in a statement on the restart of the bonuses. 

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The exact solution was not specified. Guardsmen who reenlist for two-four years and meet necessary criteria for the bonus can get as much as $20,000 with a new contract. Although the guard anticipated a quick solution, and one has been found sooner than expected, any guardsman who reenlisted during the suspension period will not be eligible for a retroactive bonus, according to an official. 

“Our first obligation to the Army and to Congress is for us to meet our end strength mission,” said Army Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, said in a statement. “Our soldiers represent all that is truly great about our Army and our nation.”

Like other parts of the armed forces, the National Guard has been struggling with recruiting new members. And as with other parts of the military it offers a series of financial incentives, both to bring in new recruits and retain current guardsmen. In 2023 the National Guard fell short of its recruiting goals by near 5%.

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