Information Papers

Army Referral Bonus Pilot Program

What is it?
NDAA 06 approved a referral bonus pilot program which permitted a bonus payment of $1K to eligible Soldiers who refer an applicant who has not previously served in the Armed Forces. NDAA 07 increased the bonus amount to $2K. The applicant must enlist in the Regular Component of the Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard. The person making the referral will receive $1K upon commencement of basic training by the person referred and then paid $1K when the person referred completes One Station Unit Training (OSUT) or Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Although the same provision in law authorizes this program for all three Army components, the title of the program for the Regular Army and Army Reserves is $2K Referral Bonus pilot program; the program’s title for the Army National Guard is Every Soldier is a Recruiter (ESAR). NDAA08 further expanded the program to permit recruitment of health professional officers.

What has the Army done?
On 18 January 2006, Army implemented the $1K referral bonus pilot program. On 13 November 2006, the bonus to eligible persons was increased to $2K. The program is open to individuals in the Regular Component of the Army, the Army Reserve (SELRES), Army National Guard (SELRES) to include AGR Soldiers on active duty, and Army Retirees (this includes Retirees from the Active and Reserve Components of the Army); Soldiers performing duty in the Hometown Recruiter Assistance Program (HRAP), Special Recruiter Assistance Program (SRAP), Soldier performing Active Duty Special Work (ADSW), members of Future Soldiers Training Program (FSTP), and civilian employees of the Department of the Army. The referrals may be made to any component of the Army (Active, Reserve, or National Guard) and do not have to be in the same component as the referring Soldier. Regular Army and Army Reserve referrals will be made to HQ, USAREC. Referrals to the Army National Guard will be made to the Army National Guard Headquarters.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
? Soldiers who make referrals may receive a referral bonus for referring anyone who is qualified, has no prior military service in the Armed Forces, and completes military training, except a member of their immediate family. Immediate family is defined as spouse, parent (including step-parent), child (natural, adopted or step-child), brother or sister. The person referred may not be in any stage of the enlistment process (appointment must not have been conducted by a recruiter).

Participation is prohibited for administrators and instructors of the Junior ROTC program and any member of the Regular Army, Army Reserves, or Army National Guard personnel serving in a recruiting or retention assignment, receiving Special Duty Assignment Pay (SDAP) (at any level) for recruiting or retention duties or assigned to duties regarding which eligibility for a bonus could be perceived as creating a conflict of interest, as determined by the Secretary of the Army.

For Regular Army and Army Reserves, the referring Soldier must either submit the referral through a process via the SMART (Sergeant Major of the Army Recruiting Team) link at or through the USAREC 800 Line (1-800-223-3735 extension 6-0473) dedicated to this program. To receive a bonus, the sponsor (person making the referral) must provide the name, address, social security number and contact phone number of the applicant using this process, prior to the applicant conducting an appointment with a recruiter. The person who is making the referral will be required to submit their social security number to facilitate payment via DFAS.

The Army referral bonus program will be reviewed during the pilot period to determine its effectiveness. Eligible personnel may receive a bonus under this program through 31 December 2008.

Why is this important to the Army?
As of 29 May 2008, this program has generated 104,161 referrals and 21,773 enlistments for the three components of the Army.