Army Raises Bonuses for Recruits to $50K To Combat Recruitment Struggles

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Highly skilled recruits could get a maximum enlistment bonus of $50,000 if they agree to join the U.S. Army for six years.

Today, Head of Army Recruiting Command Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen told the Associated Press that the COVID pandemic has significantly impacted the number of new Army recruits over the past year. And the military is hoping the large paycheck will convince some new graduates to join the armed services.

“We are still living the implications of 2020 and the onset of COVID, when the school systems basically shut down,” said Vereen. “We lost a full class of young men and women that we didn’t have contact with, face-to-face.”

Health restrictions have made it difficult to recruit in schools and public spaces, so officers haven’t been able to meet young people who are considering their futures. And because businesses are having a hard time finding employees, they’re offering higher wages to would-be soldiers. So many young people are weighing heavy options.

Vereen also said that some people are simply taking a gap year, which means they’re “making the decision that they don’t necessarily need to work right now.”

How Army Recruits Qualify for the Maximum Bonus

Each year, the U.S. Army sets a new recruiting goal, and the number is based on how many current soldiers decide to reenlist or retire. In 2020 and 2021, many soldiers chose to stay in service, which helped keep the goal attainable.

Last year’s goal was 57,500, and this year is roughly the same.

To reach that number, the Army decided to entice recruits with a historically large sign-on bonus. However only a select few will qualify for the maximum amount.

The total payout depends on when the recruit can begin training, what critical skills they already have, and what post they choose.

And certain career fields offer the highest incentives. Some of those careers include special forces, signals intelligence, fire control specialists, and missile defense. Other crucial jobs such as infantry, intelligence analyst, combat medic specialist, military police, combat engineer may offer the max bonus. But the number of available spots each month will affect the total.

Until this year, the maximum recruiting bonus was $40,000. But the current economic climate forced the Army to reconsider.

“We’re in a competitive market,” said Vereen. “How we incentivize is absolutely essential, and that is absolutely something that we know that is important to trying to get somebody to come and join the military.’

The total amount of bonuses available hasn’t been determined yet, according to Vereen. But he did share that in recent years, the Army has handed out more than $233 million.