Defense bonuses still expected but on hold
January 4, 2008
WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials still expect to pay out 26 specialty pays and bonuses that expired last month, but they have begun warning troops the money isn’t guaranteed.
The financial incentives all lapsed on Jan. 1 because of President Bush’s veto of the 2008 National Defense Authorization bill last month. The legislation, designed to set Defense spending policies for the fiscal year, also included a now-delayed 3.5 percent pay increase for all military personnel.
White House officials said the veto was needed because of a little-known clause regarding legal claims against the Iraqi government, which could have frozen that country’s reconstruction funds.
But until Congress and the president work out that issue later this month, the pay raise, bonuses and other incentives all remain on hold.
In a statement this week, Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of Defense for military personnel policy, said defense officials are working with Congress to make sure all of the pay provisions are made retroactive to Jan. 1.
“Likewise, the Defense Department will work to ensure the final bill features no interruption of bonus authorities,” he said.
The list of bonuses includes some six-year re-enlistment bonuses worth up to $90,000, the Army’s enlistment referral reward of $2,000, and a host of special pay and incentives for health professionals.
Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said each of the services are distributing conditional contracts for the bonuses, explicitly stating that the department cannot promise Congress will eventually reauthorize the bonus, but if and when they do servicemembers will still be eligible for the cash.
But even if they do not get the incentives, troops would still be bound by the service agreements they sign, he said.
Recruiters and other service staff have been warned not to promise that the incentives will become law, even after congressional pledges to make sure troops receive the money outlined in the measure.
The House is not scheduled to return to full session until Jan. 15, and the Senate won’t return until Jan. 22.
Bonuses awaiting renewal in 2008 bill
l Three-year and higher re-enlistment bonus for active-duty troopsl Two-year enlistment bonus for active-duty troopsl Reserve re-enlistment bonusl Reserve enlistment bonusl Ready Reserve re-enlistment bonus (other than Selected Reserve)l Ready Reserve enlistment bonus (other than Selected Reserve)l MOS conversion bonusl Army new enlistee referral bonusl Prior service enlistment bonusl Accession bonus for new officers in critical skillsl Accession bonus for officer candidatesl Retention incentives for troops in high-priority unitsl Special pay for reservists assigned to high priority unitsl Aviation career officers’ duty extension payl Nurse officer candidate accession programl Accession bonus for registered nursesl Nurse anesthetists special payl Accession bonus for dental officersl Accession bonus for pharmacy officersl Accession bonus for medical officers in wartime specialtiesl Accession bonus for dental officers in wartime specialtiesl Loan repayment program for select reserve health professionalsl Special pay for Reserve health care professionals in wartime specialtiesl Nuclear qualified officers extension payl Nuclear career accession bonus
Nuclear career annual incentive bonus Source: Department of Defense