Army Rolls Out New Reenlistment Bonus Worth Up to $81,000

Capt. Petro Mycio leads the oath of enlistment during Spc. Ernesto Vasquez's reenlistment ceremony at Camp Arifjan Kuwait, on April 1, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nahjier Williams) | By Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army just unveiled sweeping changes to its Selective Retention Bonus (SRB) program, offering payouts of up to $81,000 to soldiers willing to reenlist for longer periods in high-demand career fields.

Army MILPER Message 19-261 -- which goes into effect Sept. 9 -- is the sixth bonus message the service has sent out this year. It's designed to offer the biggest increases to soldiers who reenlist in specialties such as Special Forces, cyber and military intelligence for 60 months or more, Sgt. Maj. Mark Thompson, the Army's senior career counselor, told

"We are going to give more when the soldiers give more, to complement their length of continued service with a higher bonus," Thompson said.

As with the current SRB pay table, the new table offers 10 tiers that affect skill-level 1 soldiers from private first class to specialist, as well as sergeants, staff sergeants and sergeants first class for re-enlistment terms ranging from 12 months to 60 months or more.

"There are about 700 variations of bonuses on this bonus message, depending on the soldier's [military occupational specialty], their skill, the grade that they hold and the term length that they choose," Thompson said.

Although retention is at a historic high, the Army still needs to fill jobs such as unit supply specialists in the 75th Ranger Regiment -- a Tier-10 option that could earn a specialist a $65,600 bonus for a commitment of 60 months or more, officials said. On the current SRB tier table, that specialist would earn $58,300 for the same long-term reenlistment.

Only staff sergeants and sergeants first class in specialties such as Special Forces and cyber fields will be eligible to earn the full payout of $81,000 for a reenlistment of 60 months or more -- a $9,000 increase over the current Tier-10 option for the same commitment.

A cavalry scout sergeant on the current SRB table would get $7,800 for a six-year reenlistment, but the new SRB will give the same soldier $9,900 -- an increase of $2,100, according to an Army news release.

Some bonus amounts do not change. A private first class who reenlists for 12 to 23 months is eligible for a $1,000 bonus under both tables.

The new bonus table will affect only about 1,000 soldiers who are still eligible for reenlistment in fiscal 2019, but it stands to affect about 45% of the approximately 50,000 soldiers eligible for reenlistment in fiscal 2020, Thompson said.

"We want soldiers to go and talk to their career counselors; they've not only received the MILPER message ... but they can explain it in a way that is simple to grasp and they can also present different opportunities," said Lt. Col. Junel Jeffery, spokeswoman for the assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower & Reserve Affairs and the deputy chief of staff for Personnel (G-1).

"If you want to change your career field and try something new, this might be an opportunity to do so," she said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at