Soldiers slow to collect bonus for re-enlisting
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is eager to pay as much as $5,000 in a lump-sum, retroactive re-enlistment bonus to soldiers who have earned it, but the troops aren’t lining up to get the checks they deserve.
Only about 400 soldiers out of an estimated 5,000 eligible have signed up to receive a retroactive Selective Re-enlistment Bonus (SRB) for re-enlisting while deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait or Iraq.
The bonus is for soldiers in the ranks of specialist to staff sergeant, with 17 months to 10 years in service, who re-enlisted between March 18, 2003, and Sept. 18, 2003.
The bonus still is in effect for those re-enlisting since.
Privates first class whose initial enlistment was less than four years; and who reenlisted at the 17-month mark (or higher), for a period of at least four years and no more than five years, are also eligible for the SRB.
Soldiers who re-enlisted in other deployment areas, such as Bahrain or Uzbekistan, are not eligible.
Soldiers who received a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) bonus that was less than $5,000 when they re-enlisted will receive a lump-sum payment in whatever amount brings the total to $5,000. If an MOS bonus was more than $5,000, the soldier isn’t eligible for more money under the SRB.
Officials have sent word of the retroactive SRB to the media outlets, as well as sending special “flash” electronic messages to all Army career counselors and posting the information in a military personnel message to all soldiers who have Internet access.
But still only about 400 soldiers have applied, according to Ronald Canada, a personnel specialist at the Army’s Human Resources Command.
Army officials aren’t quite sure why more soldiers aren’t asking for their checks, but Canada said he expects the heavy deployment pace has something to do with it.
“We’re an Army on the move,” Canada said in a Thursday telephone interview.
Soldiers who think they may be eligible for SRB money should contact their career counselors, who will help fill out the correct paperwork and send it to the Army’s Retention Management Division.
Because the retroactive bonus money is coming from current fiscal year dollars, Army officials are asking soldiers to request the payment no later than June 30. That will give personnel workers the time they need to process the payments before a new fiscal cycle begins and complicates matters, Canada said.
Soldiers must get their applications for the bonus to the Army by July 31, when the message that authorizes the funds expires.
Officials noted that the Army can’t just automatically pay those who re-enlisted in the 2003 time frame retroactively due to several factors, including the language of the law and the various entities that keep pay and promotion records.