Attrition: The Price of Experiences Just Keeps Going Up


June 27, 2007: The U.S. Marine Corps has increased its maximum reenlistment bonus by a third, to $80,000. This particularly attractive to marines who are in a combat zone, because any pay or bonuses paid while there are tax-free. The new bonuses are not war related, but are caused by Congress ordering the marines to increase their strength by 5,000 by this October. Just recruiting 5,000 more civilians does not work, since half your average marine unit is composed of veteran NCOs and specialists. So the higher bonuses are meant to encourage these veteran men and women not to retire, or leave to take higher paying civilian jobs.

Over the last three decades, the military has learned to play the personnel recruiting and retention game by the same rules the civilian world uses. While the snazzy uniform and high morale helps, it's sometimes about money as well. A marine with 20 years service can retire on half pay, and often get a civilian job paying what they made while in uniform. If a marine is getting out partly because of money, then you can keep him if you match the offer. Patriotism also plays a role, but this pitch works better if preceded by some cash.


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