Illinois National Guard

22 Sep 2016
Public Affairs Office
CSM Bowman Talks Retention

At a different time in my life, I was facing my first ETS date and had to consider reenlisting. I served 4 years on active duty in Germany as an armor crewman. I was a young E5 but still decided to leave so I could start school. Start another life. I did. Two years later I was back in as an armor instructor in the Reserves. Why did I come back? I missed it. I was comfortable with those around me. I was serving my country and my community. It was a part time job with real benefits that was helping me reach my goals. The last few months I have had the opportunity to talk to Soldiers that were leaving our formations as they were completing their contracts. Most of the reasons were positive, we provided what they needed to reach their personal goals and they are moving on. That’s fine; I respect that. They did exactly what they said they would when they first enlisted; they served with honor. But, if you are fully qualified for the position you are in now, we need you to stay in the Illinois Army National Guard. Simple as that.

Hear me out: during this retention event we spoke about benefits, benefits you have now for being in the Illinois Army National Guard and what you receive if you stay until retirement. You have to realize what you will lose if you leave. We are all busy, balancing our family, schools, and civilian jobs as we serve. Most of us are not tracking what we are eligible for right now. That’s our fault because we don’t work hard enough to let you know what you have already earned.

Now is the time to continue what you started. Our retention team can help you navigate through reenlistment, incentives, education, MOS changes. That’s right, not happy with your MOS? We need you to do something else where you will be. Let’s get you back to school. Live to far from where your unit is? Going to school in a different part of the State and its hours away from your unit? If there is an open slot you are qualified for in a unit closer to where you are, we can transfer you. Didn’t know that either? Now you do.

 Reenlistment Bonuses, they exist. If you are an E7 or below with less than 13 years of service.

Six years: $12,000 if you reenlist 365 days to 1 day before you ETS.

2 years: $4,000 if you reenlist 365 days to 1 day before you ETS.

Education Benefits

Illinois National Guard Grant

100% free tuition for up to 4 years at any Illinois state funded university or community college of your choice.

Work on your post graduate degree. Receive an additional 2 years with 10 years of service.

Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)

You can receive up to $50,000 in student loan repayments.

15% of disbursed loans or $500, whichever is greater.

Less than 16 years of service at time of ETS.

Must enlist for 6 more years of service.

Only applicable to qualifying existing loans at contract time.

Other Education Benefits

Illinois Veterans Grant

Federal Tuition Assistance

Post 911 GI Bill

Transferability of post 911 GI Bill. You can help your Spouse or you Children with their education. I did.

Montgomery GI Bill

Montgomery GI Bill Kicker

DANTES Testing Program

Certification Program

Free CLEP tests for the Soldier and your Spouse


Health Insurance. Ask this simple question. What are you paying now for yourself and your Families Health Care? Is that cost going down? Probably not.

By being a drilling member of the Illinois Army National Guard, you are eligible for Tri Care.

Member only $47.90 per month current rate.

Member and family 210.83 per month current rate.

This is Affordable Health Care Act compliant. I challenge you to find a better deal.

Dental Insurance.

Member only $11.68 per month.

Member and family $99.27 per month.

Life Insurance. I know we don’t want to think something bad may happen to us. We have to be able to help our families if it does.

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Coverage up to $400,000 for $28.00 a month

Family SGLI Spouse coverage up to $100,000 not to exceed your coverage and is age dependent.

Children up to $10,000 coverage included at no cost if you by buy spouse insurance.

Retirement.  Seems like the idea of retirement is so far away when you are a young Soldier. Life happens, every little bit helps.

Qualification: Attain 20 years of service with at least 50 retirement points during each year. That means showing up for drill and going to annual training. You receive retirement points for each drill period, each active duty day, for every three hours of correspondence courses, each Funeral and Honor duty day, and reserve component membership points.

The more years of service, more points, and higher rank means you receive a Bigger Retirement.

 We need you to stay and help us grow this organization. Everybody has great potential. What other part time job lets you serve your community and gives access to these kinds of benefits plus a retirement at the end of service? Just be aware of what you have already earned and take full advantage. If you have questions, ask. We are all adults, start being responsible for your careers. See you in the field.

CSM Mark Bowman

Additional links

Illinois National Guard Job Openings

ILNG Family Programs and Support Assistance

VA Benefits