The old United States Navy’s recruiting campaign told would-be sailors that they could see the world. The current efforts don’t tout the travel opportunities, and instead, promise to help those ready to sign up to be freed from potentially crippling debt! This month, the Navy Recruiting Campaign announced that future sailors, as well as prior service members – either Navy Veterans or Other Services Veterans (NAVETs/OSVETs) – are now eligible for enlistment bonuses and student loan repayments of up to $115,000.
“The maximum current enlistment bonus is $50,000, and the maximum loan repayment is $65,000.00,” said Rear Adm. Lex Walker, Commander Navy Recruiting Command. “They are not mutually exclusive, so if a Future Sailor maximizes both, that adds up to a life-altering $115,000, and the opportunity to serve in the world’s finest navy.”
The service had raised the maximum enlistment bonus to $50,000 in February, as part of ongoing efforts to attract the “highest quality of recruits,” and it comes as all of the branches of the U.S. military continue to struggle to hit recruitment quotas this fiscal year.
A number of factors are now at play – and military leaders have said more thorough medical screenings now mean that fewer Americans are eligible to serve, while low civilian unemployment has also made it more challenging to recruit new service members. However, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday told reporters last month that the U.S. Navy is still on track to meet its goals, despite the recruiting challenges.
“This isn’t the first time that we’ve faced these challenges,” Gilday explained. “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.”
School First, Then Service
Such incentives could change the long-standing dynamic whereby many would enlist in the service after graduating high school, and then have the military help fund college. Now, under the Enlisted Loan Repayment Program, the Navy will cover student loans that were taken out prior to a sailor enlisting for active duty, such as the Stafford Student Loans.
“If you have student loan debt, you could be eligible for the Loan Repayment Program if you ship in any month of any fiscal year while the program remains active,” said Walker.
There are still opportunities for those who may push college down the road, or simply feel it isn’t the right course, to sign up and ship out – and possibly see the world while getting some bonus spending money.
The Navy Recruiting Command has said that active component Enlistment Bonus High School (EBHS) includes $10,000 available for High School Seniors who enter the delayed entry program by Oct. 31, 2022, and graduate from High School prior to shipping in July 2023.
Return to Duty
The service is also looking to NAVETs/OSVETs to fill the ranks. NAVETs are applicants whose last tour of active duty or active duty for training (AD/ACDUTRA) was in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Navy Reserve, have been discharged or released more than 24 hours, and who completed a minimum of 12 consecutive weeks of AD/ACDUTRA; while OSVETs are applicants whose last tour of AD/ACDUTRA was in a branch of service other than the U.S. Navy (Army, Air Force, Space Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) meeting the same requirements.
For those who recently separated and decided that perhaps the military is still the right calling, bonuses are also available.
“If you are a Sailor, Marine, Airman, Soldier, Guardian, or Coast-Guardsman who recently separated, this is an opportunity without precedent,” said Walker.
To qualify for the bonuses, Future Sailors and NAVET/OSVET applicants must be able to ship by Sept. 30, 2022. NAVET/OSVET applicants must enter Active Duty in pay grade E-4 or below, meet specific bonus eligibility, and not have received a bonus in their first enlistment. NAVETs re-accessing into active duty do not attend Navy recruit training but are ordered to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes for in-processing, while OSVETs are not required to attend Navy recruit training but are required to complete a three week Naval Orientation Course at RTC Great Lakes. They must pass the same evolutions a typical recruit at boot camp would finish such as ship handling, live-fire, swim qualifications and firefighting.