FORT CARSON, Colo. - According to an All Army Activities Message 160/2009, the Department of the Army will implement the Deployment Extension Incentive Program ending involuntary deployment extensions beginning Jan. 1, 2010.
The program is an active Army incentive program designed to encourage enlisted Soldiers who do not intend to re-enlist to extend their service voluntarily in order to complete a deployment with their current assigned unit.
Only Soldiers whose scheduled date for expiration term of service occurs during a deployment, and up to 60 days after redeployment, are eligible for the program, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Paris, 4th Infantry Division career counselor.
Soldiers taking advantage of the DEIP must extend for the duration of the deployment and 60 days after redeployment, said Master Sgt. Andrew Staats, Fort Carson career counselor.
If the Soldier's ETS date is more than 60 days after redeployment they cannot participate in the program, Paris explained.
More than 500 Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., who are on orders to deploy to Iraq in the spring of 2010 are eligible for the program, said Cpt. Rebekah Lust, operations officer, 4th Inf. Div., 3rd BCT.
To date approximately 200 3BCT Soldiers have elected to participate in the program, she added.
Forty-three 3BCT, Brigade Special Troops Battalion Soldiers were eligible for the DEIP and 23 of those Soldiers volunteered, said Command Sgt. Maj. Henry Williams, senior enlisted leader, BSTB, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
"It's a great idea, a very productive program," Williams said.
"DEIP is better than involuntary extensions because it gives the Soldier an option and there aren't any negative feelings toward the Army," said Spc. Zoran Soljic, a human intelligence collector, Company A, 3rd BCT, BSTB, 4th Inf. Div.
Soldiers who extend will be paid a monthly incentive based on the date they elect to extend, explained Paris.
Soldiers who extend between 270 to 180 days before their unit is to deploy will receive $500 per month, said Staats. Soldiers extending between 180 to 90 days before the deployment will be entitled to $350 monthly.
After the 90-day window, Soldiers will not be eligible for the incentive pay, he added.
The incentive payments will begin the month the Soldier is originally scheduled to ETS, said Sgt. Major Scott Leeling, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson career counselor.
"It's a good program that the Army is doing, letting the Soldiers make the decision, and we're there to assist them and guide them through their journey," said Leeling.
A voluntary extension means paying the Soldiers for the additional time past their original ETS, he said. Those who take advantage of the program are still eligible to re-enlist and possibly earn a bonus.
Depending on the Soldier's ETS date he or she may be eligible to receive up to $7000 through the course of the deployment, Leeling added.
Spc. Robert McHugh, a radio operator maintainer, Company B, BSTB, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., said he opted to extend so he could deploy with his Soldiers.
McHugh said he's deployed twice and likes the fact that it was his choice to extend.
The program provides those who do not plan to re-enlist the opportunity to extend for the duration of the deployment to deploy with their unit, said Lust.
Soldiers under suspension of favorable personnel actions may also take advantage of the DEIP even if they cannot re-enlist at the time, said Staats.
Those Soldiers will be allowed to participate in the program on a case by case basis, he added. Even though a Soldier may be able to participate in the DEIP program while flagged, all re-enlistment requirements must be met in order to re-enlist.
"The benefit of the DEIP is that we still keep our ranks full but we give the Soldier the opportunity to volunteer to extend themselves to the end of the deployment plus 60 days (after redeployment) to stay with the unit," said Staats.
As an incentive, Soldiers volunteering for DEIP will receive the monthly payments while deployed and will also be able to collect the monthly combat benefits plus any re-enlistment incentives, he added.
Soldiers who receive orders with 180 days or more left on their enlistment will deploy, said Leeling.
"That's key because I don't think Soldiers are tracking that if they don't have enough time to complete the entire deployment, they will still deploy," added Staats.
According to the new policy, Soldiers who do not volunteer to extend will return two months before their ETS date to out-process the Army, he explained.
"I took advantage of the DEIP because I didn't want to redeploy early and leave my team," said
Pfc. Thong Nguyen, a health care specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
Nguyen said he's planning to re-enlist while in Iraq and hopes to get the duty station of his choice; Korea.
DEIP also allows Soldiers to deploy and gain more job experience before they enter the civilian sector providing them better opportunities to succeed, said Williams.
It doesn't hurt that they are paid an incentive while they learn, he added.
"The DEIP is great; I can't see why anyone would turn it down," said Pfc. Jack Jackson, a health care specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, BSTB, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.