BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Army plans to spend $380 million on retention bonuses this year, which is triple the amount paid in a typical year. In the last two weeks, it’s already paid out $26 million.
The Army will grow by 16,000 soldiers by October. The goal is to find 6,000 new recruits and convince 9,000 to stay on duty.
“We’re trying to fill vacancies for training slots. These training slots are critical because if we don’t have enough people in training, then we can’t have a strong force,” said Sgt. First Class Jason Gribschaw, an Army recruiter.
Gribschaw joined the Army in high school and has been serving for 19 years.
“The bonuses work on supply and demand of what the Army has available and also based on individuals’ test scores, physical requirements. They have to pass all these things,” he said.
The Army is bulking up after years of downsizing.
For the last three years, the local recruiting center in Boardman has averaged 50 active duty enlistments per year and another 15 for the Reserves.
The bonus for an entry post would be less than $2,000 but some soldiers who commit to another three years or more could get between $50,000 and $90,000.
“Generally, you’re looking at high-profile military specialties, such as special forces, people in the Rangers, and others out of the 160 plus that we have. Those are called re-enlistment bonuses,” Gribschaw said.
The Army is a force that we all depend on but it’s competing with both local and big businesses for top talent.
Gribschaw feels the reason behind the bonuses is exactly the same as to why they’re used in professional sports.
“So when they go to renegotiate their contracts, ‘So if you stay here and sign this six-year contract, we’ll give you $1 million.’ So it’s not different with military, we have to keep our best and brightest,” he said.
The bonus offer is good through October 1.