Like any major corporation, the Army is always looking for ways to retain its trained and qualified employees.
One of the ways the Army does this is by providing Soldiers with reenlistment bonuses. Until recently, only Soldiers of certain rank or military occupational specialty qualified for reenlistment bonuses. Soldiers also had to wait for their reenlistment window to open before they could reenlist, thus making it difficult for them to get tax-free bonuses by signing up during a deployment. However, all that changed Jan. 18, 2005, when the Department of the Army sent out a military personnel message to Army career counselors around the globe. The Selective Reenlistment Bonus-Deployed Program allows deployed Soldiers to reenlist while abroad for a chance to receive a tax-free bonus of up to $15,000.
Basically, you can reenlist outside of your window while deployed to take advantage of the reenlistment bonus in a deployment area where it will be tax free, said Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Garcia, career counselor, Task Force Dragon, Camp Victory, Iraq.
Garcia said the program is a great opportunity for Soldiers because many of them wouldnt qualify for a reenlistment bonus if they reenlisted without being deployed.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Wilkerson, 18th Airborne Corps, reenlisted in front of the Al Faw Palace Feb. 7 and was awarded a $5,600 bonus. Wilkerson said he didnt get the opportunity to reenlist during his last deployment because his window wasnt open and he waited until this deployment just so he could reenlist in Iraq. However, he said he was glad to hear about the bonus and thinks it will encourage other Soldiers to reenlist even though they are more likely to deploy again.
Maj. Raymond Bowyer, who swore in Wilkerson during his reenlistment ceremony, said he fully supports the program.
I think it will contribute to keeping good Soldiers who are sitting on the fence and cant decide whether to stay in the Army, Bowyer said. It gives them benefits that will help to make the decision easier.
Soldiers have two options when reenlisting under the new program. They can sign up for the needs of the Army, which lets the Army choose their next duty station; or stabilization, which locks in their current duty station for two years after they redeploy.
Even though most Soldiers will qualify for a bonus if they reenlist while deployed, Garcia said not everyone will get the full $15,000 and some may not even qualify for a bonus at all.
Its all in the math, he said.
Under the new program, Soldiers will fall into two categories based on their pay grade and time in service. Soldiers in their initial term of enlistment who have served between 17 months and six years fall into the A zone, whereas Soldiers who have served between six and 10 years fall into the B zone. Soldiers in the A zone will be awarded 1.5 times their monthly base pay multiplied by the number of years they reenlist for beyond their current ETS date. Soldiers in the B zone will qualify for their base pay multiplied by the number of years they reenlist for. All bonuses will be paid in one lump sum.
Garcia said Soldiers in some MOSs might qualify for more money based on their standard bonuses. For instance, he said, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist normally qualifies for 3.5 times their base pay multiplied by the number of years and can go up to $30,000, so they would want to stick with that option.
For more information about Selective Reenlistment Bonuses, Soldiers should speak to their unit or installation career counselor.