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Re-up bonuses see big increase for FY15

Jul. 1, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Beginning July 1, first-term Marines who re-enlist in one of 106 military jobs can take home thousands of dollars in bonuses.
Beginning July 1, first-term Marines who re-enlist in one of 106 military jobs can take home thousands of dollars in bonuses. (Cpl. Brady Wood / Marine Corps)
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Beginning Tuesday, first-term Marines who re-enlist in one of 106 military jobs can take home thousands of dollars in bonuses, with top payouts reaching $51,000.

While the maximum bonus available is less than the $60,750 offered to 0689 cyber security technicians in fiscal 2014, more “Zone A” Marines — those with between 17 months and 6 years of service — will take home cash for re-enlisting. In all, eight more specialties are eligible for bonuses in the coming fiscal year, according to details of the Fiscal Year 2015 Selective Re-enlistment Bonus Program.

Huge payouts of up to $51,000 will again go to Marines in the Corps’ top five high-demand, low-density MOSs: 0211 counterintelligence/human intelligence specialist; 0321 reconnaissance man; 0372 critical skills operator; 0689 cyber security technician and 2336 explosive ordnance disposal technician.

While those jobs provide critical skills to the operating forces, officials with Manpower & Reserve Affairs have struggled to keep them filled, either because of the rigors associated with those jobs, or because of competition from the civilian sector, where Marines with particular skills can earn up to a six figure salary.

Although top payouts declined significantly, re-up bonuses for about 75 percent of the MOSs eligible in both fiscal year 2014 and 2015 have increased, according to a Marine Corps Times analysis of Marine administrative message 296/14.

Of the 76 jobs eligible for an SRB in both 2014 and 2015, the amount of money offered increased for 57 MOSs, but decreased for 19.

Most of the increases were in the $5,000 to $5,500 range, such as the bonus increase for a 6176 MV-22 tiltrotor crew chief. The biggest increase over last year, however, went to 0651 cyber network operators, who are eligible for a bonus of up to $35,750 in fiscal 2015, $20,500 more than in FY2014. That is indicative of the service’s efforts to ramp up its cyber capabilities as Marine Corps Cyberspace Command continues to grow.

Decreases also tended to be in the $5,000 to $5,500 range, although some reductions — such as the retention bonuses for band members with the United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, “The Commandant’s Own” — were two or three times that amount. The occupational specialties to suffer the biggest decreases in retention bonuses were CH-53 helicopter and UH-1 helicopter crew chiefs, 6173 and 6174 respectively. Those bonuses fell by $15,250 to just $5,000.

In the signals intelligence/ground electronic warfare career field, retention bonuses for seven of the field’s 12 MOSs saw significant decreases ranging from $4,750 to $15,000.

Those seeking a bonus should move quickly. Competition for re-enlistment has grown fierce, with some MOSs filling up early. Tier 1 Marines, the top performers based on factors including fitness reports, Physical Fitness and Combat Fitness Test scores and marksmanship, are allowed to begin submitting for re-enlistment and bonuses immediately. Tier 1 Marines receive expedited decisions, within a month. By the time re-enlistment officially opens to all Marines on Oct. 1, many jobs already have more applicants for re-enlistment than available boat spaces.

Manpower officials encourage all Marines, regardless of perceived competitiveness to submit for re-enlistment. Many Tier 2 and even some Tier 3 Marines are retained. Only those who move quickly are likely to get a retention bonus, however, because Marine officials stop giving them the moment an MOS hits its retention goal. For first-term Marines there are very strict boatspace caps.

For exact bonus amounts, by rank and MOS, refer to this year’s SRB MARADMIN, available online.

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