The climate of the military is ever-changing and, with it, the need for manpower fluctuates.

Just one year ago, the Army shrunk to its smallest level since before World War II. But with military readiness having taken a hit in the past few years, the demand for soldiers has risen and so has the plan for maintaining a larger U.S. Army.

“Now we’re trying to grow the Army again and with that comes some incentives,” said Col. Robert Whittle, 1st Cavalry Division home station commander. “Right now is a great time for active duty and future soldiers, because when the Army grows, the bonuses grow.”

Whittle and other First Team leaders took the time to personally explain to soldiers eligible to re-enlist during a gathering in Palmer Theater on March 10.

The Army is offering $10,000 bonuses for select soldiers to extend their current contracts for 12 months. The bonus amounts for each soldier depends on the individual’s military occupational skill, time in service and length of reenlistment, among other variables. Soldiers in under-strength MOS’s will be eligible for a bigger bonus.

“Each soldier joined for a reason, and we all have individual plans for our lives after the Army,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Heinze, division command sergeant major for home station. “But for many of us, this bonus will help make those plans a reality. Stay on the team while you solidify that dream, then go out and succeed as civilians.”

The monetary reward is made potentially more attractive by the fact that soldiers are not required to reenlist, which would force them into a new contract. Instead, they remain under their current contract and simply extend 12 months beyond their original expiration-term of service. For many soldiers, this is a comforting fact, as they are not ready to completely get out of the Army, but are not prepared to re-enlist and sign a new contract for a couple more years.

The offer was immediately attractive to some troopers in attendance.

“I had plans to get out, but they weren’t fool-proof,” said Spc. Timothy Martin, a combat medic with 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. “The incentive to extend for a year is going to help me make my plan a solid one, so it just makes sense to do it.”

Many soldiers join with the intent of honoring their contracts and getting out. Oftentimes, their plans change and they become career service members.

“We never shut the door on a soldier, even after they’ve decided to get out,” said Sgt. Maj. Anthony Henry, First Team command career counselor. “When a soldier is unsure of whether or not to get out, I go back to: Why did you join? Was it out of duty? If so, where is it at? Why isn’t that fire still there? Find it and stay on the team.”

With the Army offering two-year initial contracts for the first time in several years, the influx of service members is certain. But the Army wants to retain as many of the current service members as possible.

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