A Week After Suspending Reenlistment Bonuses, Army National Guard Says It Found Money to Reinstate the Incentives

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March 12, 2024
Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers from 106th Cavalry live hand grenade training

The Army National Guard restarted issuing reenlistment bonuses on March 8, just a week after the program was suspended due to service planners miscalculating funding.

The service announced the move in a memo the day before, saying “states may resume the issuance of reenlistment bonuses. This is inclusive of all contracts with a future payment date in FY24 or FY25.”

However, the updated policy cannot be applied retroactively, meaning that those who signed reenlistment packages between March 1 and March 7 will still not be eligible for signing bonuses. The memo was initially leaked online via a Reddit post, but the Guard has since acknowledged its authenticity.

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“Our first obligation to the Army and to Congress is for us to meet our end strength mission,” Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, said in a statement. “Our soldiers represent all that is truly great about our Army and our nation.”

The March 1 memo suspending incentives was due to a fiscal 2024 miscalculation by Army National Guard planners, a spokesperson said, miscounting the amount of funds needed and the anticipated number of troops planning on continuing their service.

“The Guard initially anticipated a 30-day pause in new retention bonuses would be needed,” a press release from the service said, noting that a funding solution has since been identified.

The Army requested $675 million for enlistment incentives across the Guard, reserve and active components for fiscal year 2025, according to budget documents provided to reporters on Friday.

The Guard was publicly put in hot water last year when a report by Military.com revealed that the service component was behind in paying around 9,000 soldiers their incentive bonuses, with some soldiers waiting for as long as five years.

The backlog was so severe that Guard officials told Military.com in October that around 3,900 Guardsmen had left the service without receiving their payments, with some further losing their eligibility.

“The soldiers are frustrated. Of course … why would they stick around?” a state’s adjutant general told Military.com on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation. “Sometimes people have been lazy, too. The soldier shouldn’t be coming to us … for their money. We should just pay our bills on time.”

— Rachel Nostrant is a Marine Corps veteran and freelance journalist, with work published in Reuters, New York Magazine, Military Times and more.

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