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How Military Bonuses Are Paid


Enlistment bonuses are one type of bonus offered for joining the Armed Forces. Others include selecting a high-demand job, having a particular level of education or experience, or being proficient in a specific language. How and when these bonuses are paid vary slightly by service branch.

Typically the Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy pay the bonus in its entirety upon the service member’s arrival at their first permanent duty station after completion of basic training.

Most Army enlistment bonuses are paid half up front after basic training is completed. The other half is either paid after the enlistment contract is fulfilled or in equal installments throughout the term of the enlistment.

The Army National Guard also pays 50 percent at completion of Initial Active Duty for Training as a lump sum. They pay the remaining fifty percent at the end of three years of service.

Sometimes the services may pay the bonuses as certain career milestones are met, or after completion of special training.

Repaying Bonuses

If a service member is discharged early or chooses to re-train out of a job specialty, they are required to repay any “unearned” portion of an enlistment bonus.

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