National Guard Signing Bonus

national guard signing bonusWhat is the National Guard Signing Bonus?  In many cases, you can earn a bonus to join the National Guard.  This often applies to both Officers and Enlisted personnel.  During my six years in the National Guard, I earned two Officer Bonuses.  One was for $10,000 when I joined the Guard for three years.  The second bonus was a $20,000 retention bonus for serving an additional three years.

I’ll be the first to admit that the program was a very good deal, especially considering it was for part-time work.  I qualified for the National Guard Signing Bonus because there were critical officer shortages in our state.  Not every officer qualified for the bonus.  It depended upon your branch, rank, and year of commissioning.  In addition, these signing bonuses change all the time depending upon the force structure requirements, officers assigned and needs of the Army.  To see if you are eligible, the best thing you can do is sit down with your S1 or local recruiter to find out if you are eligible for any National Guard Signing bonuses.

On the other hand, many enlisted personnel are also eligible for a National Guard Signing Bonus.  The amount you will receive, and your eligibility is determined by the “needs of the Army.”  These programs change ALL THE TIME, so it’s hard to say if you are eligible for a bonus right now.  Just like officers, you will need to sit down with your recruiter, Retention NCO, or unit S1 to find out what type of bonuses are available at the present moment.

The actual amount of the bonus can range from $5,000 to $30,000 (or more).  Once again, the amount is determined by your MOS, years of service, rank, etc.  Qualifying for a National Guard Signing Bonus can have a huge impact as to whether or not someone stays in the National Guard.  For instance, my $20,000 bonus (for 36 months) paid me an extra $600 per month just for staying in the National Guard.  When you added that number to my drill pay, it was a big monetary reward.

In summary, many enlisted Soldiers and Officers are eligible to receive a National Guard Signing Bonus.  Depending upon the Army’s needs, the National Guard often offers a bonus to soldiers with a certain rank or MOS.  These requirements change often, but if you meet certain qualifications you just may be eligible for a bonus.  I recommend you sit down with your unit S1, a recruiter, or your Retention NCO (Career Counselor) to learn more.

If you’ve ever received a bonus in the National Guard I would love to hear from you. Just leave a comment to share your story. Also, if you have any questions about the National Guard enlistment bonus that I might be able to answer, just post it below and I will try to answer it for you.

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22 thoughts on “National Guard Signing Bonus”

  1. My son enlisted in Ga National Guard with a bonus attached just before he left active duty in 2015.. He was counting on the bonus helping him get in school because the G.I. bill does not pay up front. Universities require so much money up front to get started in school. No bonus money from the Guard has been received at all so far. It will be a year come this Aug since he left active duty. He has talked to some folks in his Guard Unit and no results at all. Any advice or direction we can take to get the ball rolling would be appreciated.

  2. Wow! $10,000 and $20,000 are not small amounts in the slightest – especially as bonuses for part-time work. Interesting that there was such an officer shortage in your state… I wonder what kinds of things impact that? Are there specific reasons that could lead to such a shortage in one state over another? Are there maybe states that have too many officers, from the other side of the spectrum?

  3. My son signed a sign on bonus almost 2 years ago and still has not received a penny. It is very frustrating. He is financially strapped now and can not find a job. He is now working for the National Guard full-time and they are not paying him right there also. This process is very frustrating and I hate to see him struggle and have his credit messed up cause of all of it. I hate to keep asking him about it, because he just gets mad at me for asking. But we have had to help him and it hits hard in my pocket book.

  4. My husband is in a bonus quagmire right now. He signed a 6 year re-up and was entitled to some good money. His training NCO whited out the form and fixed some kind of error, instead of re-doing the form and having him sign it again. Now, he is in danger of not getting his bonus because it was ‘altered’, even though it wasn’t something he was aware of. Needless to say, someone is going to be an angry hornet if the bonus doesn’t get approved now.

    1. I went through a huge 16 month process with this myself, nearly doing a Congressional, because they processed my bonus a few days early (no fault of my own) and told me my contract was void. However, they told me this AFTER I did the extra three years. Needless to say, I was pissed off, but stayed persistent and got it worked out.

      1. Any particular advice on what he should do? He is considering IG if it gets denied. his TNCO should never have altered his contract without telling him, especially since their job is to know the rules on these things and should not do anything to risk endangering something like a bonus.

        1. We could chat offline through this. I had to call consult with a private lawyer and went through a very long and tedious process. I can email you or call you about it and send some supporting paperwork if you need it.

  5. It’s nice hearing of Soldiers who get signing bonuses for serving their country. If athletes, CEOs, and business people get bonuses, soldiers should too.

  6. I’m actually on the fence about bonuses in general. In a previous job I held, employees got a referral bonus of 200 whenever they would sign a new employee that mentioned them. This would be fine, except every summer we hired over 300 temporary workers to the company and they had a high turnover rate. Certain employees would get their friends and family hired and collect the bonuses in what I felt was a sneaky way. One woman hired all 30 members of her son’s hockey team and made 6, 000. That may not seem like much when you’ve been getting bonuses of 10 and 20 thousand, but for our small company, that was the amount paid to 150 employees for a month

  7. This is one interesting topic that many officers throughout the United States will like to know. In my case, being an officer in the California Army National Guard, do not have that luxury. I admit that my state is extremely broke. The idea of officer accession bonus has become a dinosaur even though I cannot say for the past 11 years when we were still at war.

    1. Every state did it differently. For a while, my state of Maryland offered National Guard Signing Bonuses for Officers and enlisted. I received one in 2005 and one in 2008. But I also understand that some states couldn’t afford the bonuses.

  8. I regret not taking the $10,000 commissioning bonus when I signed the papers for OCS. I took the SLRP instead, because I owed far more in student loans. It has been 5 years now and I still haven’t received the SLRP payments. I was told about all the scandals in the CA guard and such, and I have been waiting very patiently. But after working so hard to complete OCS at age 40 and BOLC and now serving as a company commander, wouldn’t they think I have earned it? I feel like a fool now for not taking that bonus. It would have gotten processed a whole lot faster. Despite these problems, I still enjoy serving as a leader in the Guard, and would continue to do it even without an educational incentive.

  9. Bonuses have definitely become more elusive that they seem to have been before. And the criteria seem to be very fluid. That being said, they are absolutely worth it for those eligible. I also agree that it is always worth it to ask for a bonus if you are thinking of extending your contract.

    1. You are spot on, Laura.

      I personally don’t see anything wrong with the National Guard doing a Signing Bonus for critical jobs or ranks.
      Most private sector jobs do the same thing.

      Chuck

  10. Thanks for sharing the details. The National Guard Signing Bonus is a great program. It’s a good amount of money and provides an incentive for people to join up and stay in the National Guard, although for the job they do, I think they deserve it. I’ve got a friend who was just wondering how long he’d stay in the National Guard, so I’ll tell him to talk to his Retention NCO and see what kind of bonuses they’re giving at the moment.

    1. The National Guard Signing Bonus is a great way to attract quality applicants and a great way to keep your star performers. I’ve never met anyone who turned down a signing bonus.

      Chuck

  11. Bonuses are getting harder to come by these days since the recruiters are having no trouble making their numbers and budgets are tight. For a while there–2006 and 2007 in particular–it got ugly, and the Army was throwing money around willy-nilly. The nice thing is that the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion also applies to bonuses earned for an enlistment extension signed in a combat zone. I got $7,500 lump-sum and tax-free for a three-year extension in 2005 while in Iraq, and for six years I could have gotten $15,000. My subsequent six-year extension was mostly for the Student Loan Repayment Program to pay off some of the loans from my MBA.

    1. Signing bonuses in the National Guard are definitely rare nowadays. During my time in the National Guard I got a $6,000 signing bonus for 3 years in 2005 and a $20,000 bonus for three more years in 2008. When you added those numbers into my drill pay, it was well worth it.

      And those were officer bonuses, something that just doesn’t happen very often. From what I hear in the ranks today, the bonuses are pretty much a thing of the past, for both Officers and NCOs.

      Chuck

  12. I think having a National Guard Signing Bonus based on merit and time served is is a good idea. If you think about it realistically, these bonuses are well deserved. I personally know these signing bonuses are a breath of fresh are during unpredictable economic times.

    1. I agree. Many private companies offer signing bonuses for certain positions. I think signing bonuses are a great way for the military to stay competitive and attract/keep quality people, especially in today’s economy.

      Chuck

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