National Guard Temporarily Suspends Reenlistment Bonuses Due to Lack of Funding

img-1
March 5, 2024
Soldiers with the Kansas National Guard

Guardsmen looking to reenlist soon might want to consider holding out for a few more drill weekends, as the service component’s reenlistment incentives have been put on hold, according to an internal memo to the force reviewed by Military.com.

“Effective immediately, the issuance of reenlistment bonuses is suspended,” the March 1 memo said. The suspension is for bonuses that would have a payout between now and the end of 2025, effectively including anyone who would reenlist now, though existing contracts are not impacted, according to the document.

The sudden suspension is due to a miscalculation by National Guard planners who forecast the amount of funds needed and the anticipated volume of troops planning to continue their service, a spokesperson said. Guard officials are aiming to have bonuses back on track in April, meaning service members who reenlist now won’t be entitled to incentives, but could be in a few weeks if they wait.

Read Next: Air National Guardsman Teixeira Pleads Guilty to Leaking Classified Info, Faces Up to 16 Years in Prison

“This requires a pause to assess fiscal resources that will determine when we can resume offering new bonuses with the issuance of new reenlistment contracts,” Paul Swiergosz, a National Guard Bureau spokesperson, told Military.com in a statement.

The Army National Guard is facing a retention slump, missing its goal of keeping 36,000 soldiers from leaving the force by 1,000 last year. Meanwhile, the active-duty component of the Army has met its retention goals for the past half-decade with relative ease, and is already showing early signs of meeting its goal this year.

“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 to Military.com. “We are joined with Army leaders to determine courses of action and resourcing solutions that will work to expand the recruitment market and further incentivize our soldiers to continue their service.”

The National Guard is now facing a two-front issue with bonuses.

In October, Military.com first reported the service component was behind on paying up to 13,000 of its soldiers their initial enlistment bonuses; nearly 4,000 of those troops have since left the service. Most of those soldiers likely served at least four years without ever getting paid their bonus, which can be up to $20,000.

The Guard considers bonuses late after more than 30 days, but that loose deadline is not codified in any policy — a separate issue from reenlistment bonuses payable to soldiers already serving, who continue their service.

The issue with enlistment bonuses, according to Guard officials interviewed by Military.com, is the accumulated effect of undermanned, poorly trained or poorly performing full-time staff working with a payment-processing system that has faced multiple long-term catastrophic outages. Staff in units across the country have frequently had to manually track whether bonuses have been paid out.

The Army National Guard Incentive Management System, or GIMS, was first rolled out in 2012, allowing states to manage and monitor incentives. It was designed to streamline the process and mitigate fraud and abuse.

The backlog started in 2018 when GIMS servers were damaged by a fire at the Pentagon, Army Times reported, and the Guard was subsequently unable to process payments for 10 months. In an unrelated incident, the system crashed again in 2021, leading to another 10-month blackout.

The fallout of Military.com’s reporting led to a bipartisan congressional inquiry on the matter from key House members on the Armed Services Committee who oversee national security policy.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that the National Guard has not paid thousands of soldiers and veterans the enlistment bonuses they were promised,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., a Marine veteran, said at the time.

Related: Soldiers Unpaid: National Guard Hasn’t Paid Out Thousands of Enlistment Bonuses

Story Continues

Please rate this CIBA article

0 / 5 Number Of Votes: 0

Vote

Latest News Articles