Military Bonuses Explained

In addition to pay, there are two types of bonuses that encourage soldiers to start and/or stay in the service.

Enlistment Bonus

There are many benefits to joining the Armed Forces, but few directly affect your pay as much as enlistment bonuses. In fact, if you enlist in military you may be eligible for up to $40,000 in cash bonuses.

Your actual bonus will depend on the service branch, education level, civilian experience, specific job specialty - also known as a rating (Navy), AFCS (Air Force), or MOS (Army and Marine Corps) - and length of enlistment contract. Only the U.S. Military offers high school graduates these types of signing bonuses.

Reenlistment Bonus

The Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB) program is a cash incentive paid to enlisted members to encourage reenlistments and retention in critical military skills to sustain the career force in those skills.

Reenlistment bonus award levels are adjusted as needed to ensure the services are retaining the correct quantity and critical skill mix to optimize their ability to accomplish the mission. 

The SRB is used to retain servicemembers with predetermined levels of experience (time in service) called zones. Those zones are:

  • Zone A - reenlistment between 21 months and six years of active service.
  • Zone B - reenlistment between six to 10 years of active service.
  • Zone C - reenlistment from 10 to 14 years of active service.

For example if the Navy needed to maintain their current number of Avionics Technicians with less than six years of service they would target an SRB for Zone A.

A servicemembers actual reenlistment bonus is determined by factoring:
(Monthly Base Pay) X (Years of Additional Service) X (The SRB multiplier) = SRB Award.

The bonus to be paid may not exceed the lesser of the following amounts:

  • The product of 15 times the monthly rate of basic pay to which the member was entitled at the time of the discharge or release of the member; and
  • The product of the number of years (or the monthly fractions thereof) of the term of reenlistment or extension of enlistment of up to $90,000.
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