News Releases

Murray says Pentagon WILL Pay Bonuses It Promised to Active Guard and Reserve Members

Nov 07 2005

In Policy Reversal, Defense Department Will Now Pay the $7,500- $15,000 Re-Enlistment Bonuses it Promised to Active Guard and Reserve Members

(Washington, D.C.) – The Department of Defense has agreed to Senator Murray's request to pay the re-enlistment bonuses it promised to more than 300 Active Guard and Reserve members, including about 25-30 in Washington state. Murray wrote a series of letters and even introduced an amendment to get the Pentagon to keep its promise.

"It's taken months of letters and phone calls, but we finally have a commitment from the Pentagon that it will honor the promises it made to our Active Guard and Reserve members," Murray said. "They have sacrificed so much for us, and they deserve to be treated fairly. I'm pleased that the Pentagon is finally going to do the right thing, and I want to make sure that everyone who is entitled to a bonus gets one."

Starting in January, the Pentagon offered bonuses to Active Guard and Reserve members who extended their service commitment. But then in April, the Pentagon reversed course and notified those who had signed up that it would not pay the bonuses it had promised.

Murray became aware of the reversal and began writing to Pentagon officials saying that our country must honor the promises we make to those who serve us.

In January 2005, the National Guard Bureau began offering re-enlistment bonuses to Active Guard and Reserve members in combat zones who extended their service commitment. The bonus for a 3-year extension was $7,500. The bonus for a 6-year extension was $15,000. It is estimated that more than 300 Active Guard and Reserve members and Military Technicians in combat zones extended their commitments based on this promise.

This summer, Senator Murray became aware that the Pentagon had directed the Army National Guard to not pay the bonuses that were promised.

  • On August 31st, Murray wrote to the National Guard Bureau asking for an immediate explanation and emphasizing the importance of honoring the promised bonus.

  • On September 15th, the National Guard Bureau replied to Senator Murray. The letter said that National Guard Bureau offered the bonuses starting in January 2005 but that in April of 2005 the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs directed the National Guard Bureau to cease all bonuses to Active Guard, Reserve and Military Technicians.

  • On October 13th, Senator Murray wrote to Thomas Hall, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, asking that he reverse his directive and pay the bonuses.

  • On October 25th, Secretary Hall replied that there was a misunderstanding and that bonuses should be paid out of a different account. He wrote he was working with Army National Guard officials to honor the bonus contracts.

  • Last week, National Guard Bureau officials told Senator Murray's office they had agreed to pay the bonuses and were making preliminary arrangements.

  • On November 4th, Senator Murray offered an amendment to the FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Act outlining the need for the Pentagon to pay the bonuses. Senators Mark Dayton (D-MN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Senator Murray's amendment.

  • On November 7th, National Guard Bureau officials gave Senator Murray a new directive (dated November 3), which said the Guard will honor the bonuses.

Now, Senator Murray is waiting to review the follow up directive which will spell out exactly how the bonuses will be paid. After spending two months on the issue, Senator Murray wants to be sure that everyone who is entitled to a bonus actually receives it.