Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB)

The Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB) is the Department of Defense’s tool to keep highly skilled military members in uniform and often to help shore up retention in critically-staffed career fields. Depending on the branch of military service, this bonus may be referred to as a Selective Retention Bonus, but the idea is essentially the same.

According to the Department of Defense, the SRB should not be confused with a different kind of retention bonus known as the Section 355 Critical Skills Retention Bonus (CSRB) or Bonus for Assignment to High Priority Unit. The Selective Reenlistment Bonus is “Section 38” as opposed to Section 355.

Why a Reenlistment Bonus?

The various branches of military service recognize certain truths about reenlistment– the United States Air Force official policy includes this statement from the Air Force official website:.

“Reenlistment in the Regular Air Force is not an inherent individual right for enlisted Airmen. It is a privilege and confers an obligation to serve.”

Reenlistment is possible for military members who are considered suitable to reenlist, meet the qualification requirements, and have “qualities essential for continued service and can perform duty in a career field in which the Air Force has a specific need,” according to the official site.

This philosophy is conveyed in different ways depending on the branch of military service, however as a rule, only the servicemember’s command has the power to accept or reject reenlistment. Those who are not chosen for reenlistment are separated from military service on the Date Of Separation (DOS) provided on the most current military record.

Those who are accepted as re-enlistees may not necessarily qualify for a reenlistment bonus. Those who do must meet specific requirements established by both the DoD and the branch of service.

Reenlistment bonuses are paid to keep highly qualified service members in uniform; they are also paid to ensure critically staffed career fields in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Marine Corps are operating at end-strength levels acceptable to the Department of Defense.

How Much is the SRB?

The maximum amount prescribed by law that a service member can receive through a single SRB option is $90,000 for a minimum three-year re-enlistment period. The actual amounts of an SRB will vary depending on circumstances.

Chapter 9, Page 61 of the DoD Financial Management Regulation states that SRB bonuses are based on “multiples, not to exceed ten, of the member’s monthly basic pay at the time of discharge, release from active duty, or the day before beginning of extension, multiplied by years of additional obligated service.”

As DoD literature reminds service members, “Reenlistment bonus amounts will vary depending on the member’s prior years of service.” Bonuses may be paid either in a lump sum or in yearly installment payments, however, the DoD regulations specifically discussing SRBs state, “Selective reenlistment bonus (SRB) payments are paid by installments.

When installments are authorized, the servicemember will receive “no less than 50%” of the bonus as an up-front payment. Any upfront payments should be delivered no more than 30 days after the reenlistment date.

Those who registered for SRB but did not receive this payment within the 30-day window should contact their finance office to look into the hold-up.

Who Is Qualified for SRB?

According to the Defense Accounting And Finance Service (DFAS), an SRB may be due a service member who meets these DoD requirements:

  • Falls into a “zone” of conditions for reenlistment (see below)
  • Is qualified in a military specialty currently paying SRB
  • Is E-3 or higher
  • The servicemember reenlists within 3 months of the date of discharge or release from voluntary active duty-” lesser periods” of eligibility might apply depending on circumstances
  • The service member otherwise extends enlistment, or “enlists in Regular Component within 3 months of release from Active Duty as member of Reserve Component”

The SRB “zones” are defined in DFAS literature as follows:

  • Zone A (requiring two to six years of active duty service)
  • Zone B (requiring six to 10 years of active service)
  • Zone C (requiring 10-14 years of active service)

Additional Considerations for SRB

Members who are discharged “within 3 months of their normal ETS for the purpose of immediate reenlistment” are seen by the DoD as having met the terms of the enlistment contract. However, any “unserved period” within the last 3 months is “considered as existing obligated service when computing the SRB entitlement.”

Those who were discharged involuntarily (and prior to the expiration of their enlistment or extension) through military early separation programs “who are reenlisted immediately the following discharge” are likewise considered “to have completed their Service agreement.” Any unserved time ends on the day of involuntary discharge.

The rules in this section include that any military member who volunteers to separate early (rather than being involuntarily separated) “is not considered to have been involuntarily discharged” and does not qualify for the above consideration.

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