April 15, 2024

The Army is ending its reenlistment bonus, at least for a short while, as the service experiences notably high retention rates.

A Sept. 12 internal Army Military Personnel Center message shared with Military.com detailed that the Selective Retention Bonus Program was shut down on “the effective date of this message.”

This past April, the Army hit its retention goal for the fourth year in a row, Military.com previously reported. The active-duty force retained 55,000 soldiers who were otherwise scheduled to leave the service.

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Those high retention efforts have paid off, it seems, and the bonuses will not be available through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in two weeks on Sept. 30.

“We have seen positive momentum over the last several months, and we are currently on track to recruit more young Americans than we did last year,” said Madison Bonzo, an Army spokeswoman. “We have two weeks left in the fiscal year, and we are still actively recruiting.”

In 2023, the Army retained 3,700 more soldiers compared to the previous fiscal year. Rather than put more money into an already stellar retention year, the Army decided to pause the program for the remainder of the fiscal year.

“While not every soldier receives a bonus, the increased retention increased the expenditures,” Bonzo said. “In previous years, the Army was able to shift funds from other programs but, rather than put other programs at risk, we elected to suspend the bonuses.”

The Selective Retention Bonus Program is offered every year to qualified soldiers “who reenlist in the Regular Army for continued duty in certain military occupational specialties” depending on the needs of the service at that time, according to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command website.

Soldiers will not be able to contract under the old selective retention bonus until it is reinstated, according to the internal message.

Those soldiers who want to reenlist and obtain their bonus, but who have an exit date in the next couple of weeks, can re-up their existing contracts for as little as three months, according to Bonzo.

Meanwhile, bringing new soldiers into the service has been more difficult for the Army.

Last year, the service ended up 15,000 new soldiers short of its goal of 60,000 recruits. The Army is doing a lot better this year, but is still expected to fall a little short of its more ambitious recruiting goal of 65,000 new soldiers this year.

In July, at the Aspen Security Forum, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth called it a “stretch goal,” according to CNN, and said the service will bring “more young Americans into the Army” than the previous year.

“So, I think by several thousand, we’re going to do better than we did last year,” Wormuth said in Colorado. “And that’s positive, but we’ve got more work to do.”

Bonzo said the selective retention bonus program will be reinstated “in the very near future.”

— Thomas Novelly can be reached at thomas.novelly@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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