Retention

MSG John D. Ruth
LSA Anaconda Command Career Counselor

Success in retention has always been a direct indicator of the quality leadership displayed within any unit. Since January 1, the 13th Corps Support Command has had tremendous success in retaining soldiers throughout the entire theater of operation. With the arrival of the COSCOM Retention Team on January 9, the team has re-enlisted 176 COSCOM soldiers in theater and has paid out over $1,233,677.00 in Lump Sum Tax Free bonus money. In addition, the team has re-enlisted 120 soldiers from 42 different Active Army Units and have paid those soldiers $704,046.00 in bonus money. Likewise, our Reserve Component counterparts are starting to see similar successes as they have re-enlisted 16 soldiers back into the Army Reserve and have paid out $39,500.00 in re-enlistment bonuses. These numbers will continue to rise as the year continues. However, these numbers can be somewhat misleading as not every soldier who has, or who will reenlist in the future, is entitled to a re-enlistment bonus. Probably the biggest misconception about re-enlistment bonuses in the deployed theater of operation is that every soldier who re-enlists will get a bonus and that is simply not the case.

AR 601-280 chapter 5 covers bonus eligibility and is summarized as follows:
1. First, you must be eligible to re-enlist.
2. The Bonus MOS’s and multipliers is based on the TSRB/SRB Message released by Retention Management Branch and Human Resource Command.
3. Eligibility is based on MOS (immaterial for soldiers who are deployed) and zone eligibility.
4. Currently there are 3 bonus zones:
  A ZONE- soldiers between 17 months to 6 years Active Federal Service and are in the grades of (SPC, SGT, SSG)(PFC in limited cases)
  B ZONE- soldiers between 6 years to 10 years Active Federal Service and are in the grades of (SGT, SSG)
  C ZONE- soldiers between 10 years to 14 years Active Federal Service and are in the grades of (SGT, SSG) Note, this Zone is currently rescinded at this time except for certain MOS’s)
5. Must re-enlist for enough time to break into the next zone and must not have previously received a bonus in that zone.
6. SPC/SPC (P) in Zone B are not entitled to receive an SRB/TSRB or Deployment bonus.

Currently there are 6 MILPER Messages that cover SRB/TSRB re-enlistment bonuses and as Career Counselors, we are charged with identifying which bonus message will benefit the re-enlisting soldier the most. Two of them, MILPER Message 04-034 and 04-047 cover deployed re-enlistment bonuses. Although both messages are for deployed soldiers, they are different in several aspects and are listed below:

1. MILPER Message 04-034 – The SRB/TSRB multipliers are lower and the minimum re-enlistment period is 3 years. The soldier must re-enlist while in one of three deployed areas: Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan. The soldier must physically be on the ground. Under this message, the soldier must agree to stay with his/her current unit for a period of 12 months from the date of re-enlistment. One other difference is there is no cap on the amount of money the soldier can receive.
2. MILPER Message 04-047 – The SRB/TSRB multiplies are higher and the minimum re-enlistment period is 4 years. The soldier must re-enlist while in one of three deployed areas: Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan. Again, the soldier must physically be on the ground. The soldier must agree to stay with his/her current unit for a period of 12 months from the date of re-enlistment and there is a cap of $10,000 on this message.

The bonuses paid under either message are tax-free and are paid in a lump sum.

One of the biggest questions Career Counselors are asked is how do we compute bonus payments. The total amount of bonus will be computed as follows: Monthly basic pay (at time of discharge, or release from active duty) multiplied by years, or fractions of a year (months) of additional obligated service, multiplied by the SRB/TSRB multiplier, equals the total SRB/TSRB. Although we give soldiers a general idea of the amount they will receive, we advise them that we are not Finance and that Finance has the ultimate responsibility for exact amounts and payment. All bonus money is paid from DFAS through direct-deposit to the soldier's bank account.

The Reserve Components do have bonuses as well however; they are vastly different from that of the Active Army. First, Army Reserve or Army National Guard soldiers, regardless of present duty status, are not entitled to an Active Army Reenlistment Bonus. Sgt. Maj. Mark Magnussen, Senior Reserve Component Career Counselor, provided the following information regarding Army Reserve Bonuses.

1. For a 6-year reenlistment, a soldier could receive a $5,000 bonus paid in the following manger ($1,000 initial payment with annual payments of $400, $600, $600, $800, $800 and $800)
2. For the 2-Three year option, the first contract gets $2,500 (50% initial payment and 50% final payment at the end of the contract) the second and subsequent contract is $2,000 (50% initial payment and 50% final payment at the end of the contract)
3. Soldiers must not have ever received a re-enlistment bonus and must have less than 14 years of total service.

I hope this clarifies some of the bonus questions that have been out there and I would like to stress that re-enlistment bonuses, whether in the Active, Guard or Reserve, are not why Soldiers choose to continue their military career. Soldier's who chose to remain in the service do so for many reasons and re-enlistment bonuses are just a nice additional incentive, especially when tax-free, for them. When asked, most Soldiers will tell you the reason they stay is due to the fact that they love what they do; they love serving their country; they love the benefits that the military has to offer and they like being a part of a very dynamic and structured organization. I would also add, that leaders keep soldiers in the Army by being just that "A leader" For more information about continuing your Military Career, see your local Career Counselor and "STAY ARMY".