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ARLINGTON, Va. — Army civilians can now collect the $2,000 referral bonus for persuading someone to join the service, Army officials announced Thursday.

The referral bonus pilot program, which began in January 2006, was originally instituted as a $1,000 bonus open to soldiers, regardless of component or rank, and then opened to retirees.

The bonus went from $1,000 to $2,000 on Nov. 13, thanks to a clause in the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill.

But it took a while for the Army to develop mechanisms to provide the payments for civilians, according to Al Green, chief of the Army’s recruiting policy branch.

The program “came out of the gate” in January 2006, and was restricted to soldiers referring other soldiers, Green told Stars and Stripes on Friday.

At that point, Green said, Army officials “learned there were other communities that were affiliated with the Army that should benefit from the program,” like retirees and civilians who work for the service, so Congress “revisited the act” that authorized money for the bonus.

Department of the Army civilians can now also get the bonus, as instructed in the defense bill.

In the program’s first year, there have been 24,472 referrals made to the program, Green said. Of those referrals, 3,378 recruits joined one of the three Army components.

Payouts come in two lump sums: $1,000 when the referral candidate enters basic training, and the second $1,000 after the soldier graduates from either One Station Unit Training or Advanced Individual Training.

The enlistment can be with any component, including the active Army, Army National Guard or the Army Reserve. The person who enlists must not have previously served in the U.S. armed forces.

But for a referral to count in the program, a civilian has to use one of two Web sites to register a recruit before the recruit first meets with an Army recruiter: https://www.usarec.army.mil/smart/ or, for potential Army National Guard recruits, www.1800goguard.com/esar.

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