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Marine Corps offers $30k bonus for former Reserve pilots

U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj. Allen Goodyear, the squadron sergeant major for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, signals for an F-35B Lightning II to launch from the flight deck of the USS Essex during Exercise Dawn Blitz, Oct. 24, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps April Price/Flickr)
January 03, 2020

Former Marine Captain and Major Reserve pilots can receive a bonus of up to $30,000 if they rejoin a Marine Corps squadron.

As part of the Active Reserve Aviator Return to Service Program, qualified former Reserve pilots must agree to a three-year term in the Active Reserve to receive the $30,000, but individuals willing to sign a two-year term can get $20,000, reported.

The incentives will be paid out on a first-come, first-serve basis but the program will prioritize former F/A-18 Hornet pilots, MV-22B Osprey pilots, and KC-130 Hercules aircraft commanders. Additionally, the program is open to former AV-8B Harrier, CH-53E Super Stallion, and UH-1Y Venom pilots.

“The retention incentive is distributed as a lump sum of 20,000 dollars for the 24-month service obligation or a lump sum of 30,000 dollars for the 36-month service obligation, less any applicable taxes,” the message states. “Lump sum payment will not be paid out until the member is joined to the [Active Reserve] program.”

Although this latest development comes as the United States begins to increase its presence in the Middle East, the top assignments for the Active Reserve Aviator Return to Service Program will involve flying operations at the squadron level.

The operations will take place across Reserve units in the continental United States including Arizona, California, Maryland, New Orleans, Texas, or Virginia. Although assignments aren’t limited to those squadrons, according to the message.

“Aviators having previously been career designated on the AR will automatically be career designated upon re-accession,” the message states.

Pilots who didn’t apply for career designation will be able to do so once they join.

Majors who weren’t previously considered for O-5 who served more than 12 years on active duty, those who were considered for lieutenant colonel who served more than 15 years, and captains who served more than 10 years of active-duty service who weren’t previously considered for major on an Active Reserve promotion board are eligible to apply.

Those who applied for but were not offered career designation in the Active Reserve, Lieutenant Colonels and Lieutenant Colonel selects, and aviators with more than 18 years of active duty service are all ineligible, according to the statement.

All approved bonuses must be paid by September 24, 2020, but the AR officers must meet all the program requirements. If they fail, they will lose their bonus.

In an attempt to retain pilots who typically leave the service for jobs with commercial airlines, the Marine Corps announced earlier this year that it would be offering big bonuses of up to $280,000 to active-duty pilots as well if they agreed to fly for eight more years.

“[The $280,000 bonus] adds one more positive benefit when Marine aviators weigh their options whether to continue serving or move on from the military,” said Lt. Gen. Michael A. Rocco, the deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs for the Marines.

“Marines usually stay in uniform because they enjoy being a Marine and serving with their fellow [Marines]. I hope our aviators see this expanded bonus program as a genuine effort to keep their talent and leadership in the squadrons to continue flying and mentor the next generation of aircrews.”