DOD ends re-enlistment bonus for some Army Guard
(Editor’s Note: A clarification regarding this article has been issued since its original publication. The story has been altered to reflect that clarification).
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Defense Department has ended a re-enlistment bonus of up to $15,000 for some Army National Guard troops, but the Guard has vowed to honor bonus contracts already signed, officials said.
The News-Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., first reported Wednesday that National Guard technicians had been offered the bonuses to re-enlist for another six years in January, but the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs quashed the bonuses in April.
It turns out that the troops were ineligible for the bonuses because paying activated National Guard troops a selective reserve bonus violates Office of the Secretary of Defense policy, said National Guard Bureau spokesman Jack Harrison.
Budgetary concerns did not factor in to the decision to cancel the bonuses, he said.
More than 330 National Guard troops contracted to re-enlist with the bonus, wrote another National Guard Bureau spokesman via e-mail.
Lt. Col. Michael Milord wrote that 69 Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) troops re-enlisted for a total of $971,000 in bonuses.
In addition, another 267 dual-status technicians — reservists who in civilian life are also employed with reserve units — contracted expecting to get a total of about $3.8 million in bonuses.
Of those technicians, 86 have been paid about $1.2 million in bonuses, Milord wrote. No action has been taken to collect the bonuses already paid, he wrote.
The National Guard has no plans to recoup the bonus that have already been paid, said Lt. Col. Robert Porter, of the division of the National Guard Bureau that handles the bonus program.
Porter said the National Guard Bureau is looking at several solutions to honor the rest of bonuses including giving the National Guard troops active-duty bonuses and asking for an exception to the rule that prohibits them from receiving the selective reserve bonuses. The Office of the Secretary of Defense also is discussing making retroactive payments, Milford wrote.
Milord wrote that the troops whose bonuses are now defunct are still eligible for active-duty bonuses, which have a higher ceiling and more flexible lengths of service contracts.
“The National Guard’s clear intent is to honor bonus contracts and avoid adversely affecting AGR soldiers,” he wrote.