Home  »  Military & Veteran Benefits   »   Army National Guard Pauses Reenlistment Bonuses

Army National Guard Pauses Reenlistment Bonuses

The Army National Guard temporarily suspended reenlistment bonuses in March 2024, prompting some who were scheduled to reenlist in March to reconsider doing so until the payment of those bonuses starts again.

A National Guard memorandum issued on 1 March 2024 advises, “Effective immediately, the issuance of reenlistment bonuses is suspended” for those up for reenlistment in March until the pause is rescinded.

Those who already signed reenlistment contracts before the pause will have those agreements honored, and any bonuses due based on those contracts will be paid as per the agreement. Army National Guard bonuses typically include a $20K payout for agreeing to a new military service commitment.

Why Suspend Army National Guard Reenlistment Bonuses?

Some sources report a “miscalculation” by Guard officials when planning the budget for retention bonuses. The pause, which took effect March 1, 2024, is expected (at press time) to run until April of the same year.

But expectations may not agree with reality. Why?

The suspension of bonuses is meant to assess the budget remaining for those reenlistment bonuses and decide how to proceed.

How much money remains, and how long will that funding last until bonuses must be suspended again in 2024? The Army Guard wants to answer those key questions.

The Army Guard has experienced retention bonus troubles in the past, and it appears likely that the suspended bonuses could remain in limbo beyond April 2024 (see above.) This is speculation, but the DoD’s track record on such deadlines is spotty at best regardless of branch of service.

Add to that the Army Guard’s share of reenlistment pay woes in the last few years. One example? In October 2023, Military.com ran a story noting some 13 thousand troops had not been paid their initial enlistment bonuses on time, with some 4 thousand of that number ultimately leaving the military in the wake of that issue.

Related: National Guard and Reserve Benefits Guide

Bad Timing

These troubles paying reenlistment bonuses come at a time when military recruiting is suffering overall. In 2023, the Army Guard missed its retention goals by 1,000 people, and the Department of Defense missed recruiting goals by approximately 40,000.

Defense.gov notes the recruiting issue has multiple causes:

  • A strong economy and more job prospects for potential recruits;
  • A smaller population of eligible new recruits;
  • Lack of trust in government institutions among eligible recruits;
  • Lack of awareness of military career options.

Army National Guard Retention Bonuses

What kinds of retention bonuses may be affected by the suspension? The Army Guard lists a variety of them, most of which typically pay up to $20k:

  • Reserve Component Enlistment Bonus:
  • Prior Service Enlistment Bonus
  • Reenlistment/Extension Bonus
  • Enlisted Affiliation Bonus
  • Officer/Warrant Officer Retention Bonus

When Will The Army Guard Reenlistment Bonus Suspension End?

The “anticipated” end of the pause is April 2024, but no guarantees or specific dates are mentioned (at press time.) This is an ongoing story.

Related: National Guard and Reserve Benefits Guide

About the author


Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.