Navy Offers Recruitment and Loan Re-Payment Bonuses

Well, we live in interesting times. As a veteran, from a long time ago now, this is a concept that is truly new and “interesting” to me. An article in the Navy Times, announced the Navy’s new recruitment program that offers future sailors and veterans up to $150,000 in combined enlistment and loan repayment incentives. If I was of an age to enlist and already had some college student debt, this might be just the incentive I would be looking for at this time. Still, one might be moved to ask, “Is this the right ‘incentive’ for deciding to serve”?

I wrote an article recently about the difficulties that the services are having in meeting their recruitment goals for this fiscal year. According to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday, the Navy is currently on track to meet its goals, despite the current recruiting challenges. He told reporters at a press conference on July 26, 2022, “This isn’t the first time that we’ve faced these challenges. We just can’t rest on our laurels. We have to be more innovative. We have to be more creative. Our outreach has to improve.”

Photo: Picryl/U.S. NAVY

And this bonus incentive program seems to reflect Adm. Gilday’s thinking. According to the article in the Navy Times, new recruits who sign up for active duty before the end of this September will be eligible to receive the enlistment bonus of $50,000 that was instituted in February of this year. If that new recruit has already accrued student loan debts, he or she would be eligible for a maximum of $65,000 for loan repayment as well. That would add up to the maximum incentive of $115,000. The Navy seems to recognize that it has to compete with the private sector to entice the highest-quality candidates for service in the world’s best Navy.

This incentive program is aimed at veterans as well. Say you are an Army, Air Force, Marine, or Coast Guard veteran who has recently completed your enlistment and still have a desire to serve. The Navy is making these bonuses available to such veterans who have served at least 12 consecutive weeks on active duty to qualify, except if they have already received an enlistment bonus previously.

Photo: Flickr/Official U.S. Navy Page

According to the Navy Times article, Navy veterans who chose to enter under this incentive program would be required to complete in-processing at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes. Veterans from other services who want to take this offer and reassess into the Navy must also complete a three-week Naval Orientation course at RTC Great Lakes.

Oh, how times have changed. In my time, admittedly a long time ago, the draft was still in play. “Incentive” would not be a word to describe that motivation, but some chose to enter one or the other of the services rather than waiting for the draft to catch up with them, which, more often than not, would put them in the Army and on track for serving in Vietnam. But these times have their own issues, and, as was pointed out in the previous article I wrote about the difficulties the services were having in meeting their recruiting quotas, those issues have to do with the other troubling social issues.

Photo: Flickr/Official U.S. Navy Page

Clearly, the Navy is looking for recruits of the highest quality. It remains to be seen if this new incentive program is successful in achieving that goal. I admit to being a traditionalist when it comes to this issue. I think that serving in the military and the choice to willingly take on the risks that potentially come with the duty to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States is a noble desire that is rooted in things like selflessness, patriotism, and serving the greater good. It appears that the appeal to serve may be tied to more material desires at this time. Will this change the Navy in any way? Who can tell? This recruitment incentive program is, as Adm. Gilday pointed out above, an “innovative” and “creative” means to the end of solving some of the recruitment issues of our times.

As always, only time will tell whether this recruitment program will bring in the highest quality recruits that the Navy needs to maintain the high standards of today’s modern Navy in this ever more complex and challenging global political environment. The hope, of course, is that those who chose to enter the Navy under this incentive program will still do so with a strong sense of the higher ideals of patriotism and the recognition that those who serve are among the few who willingly take on the sacrifices and risks that are necessary to preserve the greater good for the many.

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