YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors hoping to cash in on the Selective Re-enlistment Bonus program this year shouldn’t procrastinate, according to Navy officials.

A Jan. 7 Navy message said sailors now are required to submit bonus requests 35 to 120 days prior to their intended date of re-enlistment.

“This is one of those time-critical programs that we have, and if you fall out of the deadline, you’re not going to get any money,” Chief Petty Officer Tasha Wright, Yokosuka Naval Base’s career counselor, said Friday.

Sailors are encouraged to take advantage of the program as soon as they meet eligibility requirements.

“While the SRB program continues to be the Navy’s primary monetary incentive to encourage sailors with critical skills and valuable experience to stay Navy, we must also remain within congressionally authorized funding limits,” the message said.

Last year, the SRB program was canceled for several months because of higher-than-expected re-enlistment rates.

“Sailors need to know very early what their intentions are,” Wright said. “They can’t be on the fence about their military careers.”

With retention at its highest level in recent years, sailors with critical skills will, without doubt, be easier to come by, she said.

Once the Navy reaches its staffing goal in a particular specialty, bonuses for that field will be halted, the message said.

Wright said most sailors are re-enlisting simply to have a job.

“The bonuses are a great incentive, but the economy is the biggest contributor to our retention right now,” she said.

The Navy has awarded more than 1,300 bonuses this fiscal year, the message said.

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