Even without the enlistment bonus, the military offers quite a great deal when it comes to one’s career. Through the military one can become fit, get a free education and learn how to properly defend themselves and others. Yet, many soldiers don’t realize these things until after they join. So for them one of the motivating factors for signing up is the enlistment bonus. This may also be the case with individuals who decide to reenlist once their term is over.
So, what is specifically is an enlistment bonus? It is simply when the military pays people money to sign up for the service. Before the Iraq War the average enlistment bonus for newcomers was about $5,000. However, after the Iraq War the amount jumped into the thousands. Nowadays a person can earn between $15,000 and $40,000 just for signing up for the military.
If an enlistment bonus is being provided to a person who has already served in the military, it is considered a reenlistment bonus. However, not every military person may qualify for a reenlistment bonus, as there is strict criteria associated with who is eligible to receive it. For example, a soldier must be qualified in a skill that is deemed to be useful, as defined by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of Homeland Security. They also need to have been on active duty for at least 17 months. Additionally, soldiers have to agree to reenlist voluntarily for at least three years. They must also not be receiving payments for nuclear training. If a military person fits these and other criteria, they can earn up to $90,000 in reenlistment bonuses.
The downside to either the enlistment bonus or the reenlistment bonus is that once a person receives it, they are legally obligated to complete their military service. If they do not, they must find a way to pay the money back. Granted, they don’t necessarily have to pay the whole amount, but they are still responsible for a good portion of it. Specific payment arrangements will depend on the unit they join. For example, some units may deduct the money out of a soldier’s taxes while others may create more formal payment arrangements.
However, if a person does complete their military service, (as most do), they are allowed to keep all of the money, minus whatever is deducted for tax purposes. Additionally, even if they receive a more generous bonus, they will still have all of the benefits associated with being in the military. Neither the National Guard nor the Army ‘punishes’ the soldier for being eligible for such a large amount of money. In fact, it is given as an reward for being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for one’s country.
Yet, it should be noted that enlistment or reenlistment bonuses can be spent very quickly, despite being so large. For this reason once the money is received it should go immediately into a savings account. One of the best savings accounts that can be used is a money market account. Through these types of savings account, a person will earn generous interest on the money it would contain.