RICHMOND, Va. –
The Virginia National Guard’s Referral Incentive Program, or REP, is now offering $1,000 to Virginia citizens who help grow the force with qualified leads who successfully enlist into the Virginia Army or Air National Guard. Previously, referral bonuses were capped at $750.
“Increasing the incentive for the Referral Enlistment Program to $1,000 provides even more incentive for citizens of Virginia to connect potential recruits with opportunities for career growth and skill development in the Virginia National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “We really appreciate our elected officials giving us the flexibility to tailor the program for how we think it will best allow eligible citizens to help us meet our recruiting goals and help maintain a high state of readiness in the VNG.”
First announced in September 2022, the REP aims to reward Virginia’s assistance who help the Virginia National Guard with recruiting efforts. Since the program’s induction, approximately 12 individuals have submitted leads that either enlisted into the VNG or are pending enlistment. As benchmarks are hit, bonuses are making their way to Virginia’s citizens and among the first to receive their bonus was Sgt. Edward Hinton, an operations noncommissioned officer at the VNG’s State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
During his drill weekend in March, Hinton was presented with a ceremonial check for $1,000 by Maj. Kim Wynn, commander of the Virginia National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. Lt. Col. Emily Huffman, SMR commander, was on hand to congratulate Hinton and thank him for helping to grow the force, as was Staff Sgt. Shawn Bartz, the recruiter who helped Hinton through the REP process.
“It was all brand new,” Hinton said of his experience with the REP. “More or less, the paperwork seemed pretty flat and easy to just fill out and give to [Staff Sgt. Bartz].”
The REP is open to any adult citizen of Virginia except those who work with a Virginia Army or Air National Guard recruiting element or who share a household with someone who does. Participation in the program requires interested individuals to fill out a few forms and become a Personnel Development Coordinator, or PDC. From there, PDCs may submit contact information for individuals eligible for and interested in service in the Virginia Army or Air National Guard. PDCs can receive $500 for each eligible lead who successfully enlists into the Virginia Air or Army National Guard. Once that individual completes their training requirements, PDCs will receive an additional $500, for a total incentive of $1000.
“It was pretty simple,” Bartz said of the process. The program, he said, is a great opportunity for Virginia citizens and said, “Hopefully it catches fire.”
The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to provide a combat reserve for the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force and a state mission to provide a domestic response force to defend the commonwealth. VNG Soldiers and Airmen live, work and serve in the same communities and are often called upon to help their fellow citizens during times of need. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen can also be federally mobilized for deployments both at home and abroad. Most members of the National Guard serve part-time, usually just one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer for annual training. The part-time nature of the National Guard means Soldiers and Airmen can pursue careers and higher education goals while serving their nation, as well as their community and state.
Benefits of service in the National Guard are extensive. In addition to sign-on bonuses of up to $20,000, education benefits can offset the cost of tuition by more than $20,000 each year. Additional benefits through the Montgomery G.I Bill can provide a monthly stipend for those attending school, while programs like the Minuteman Scholarship can cover the cost of an undergraduate degree. Affordable health, dental and life insurance is available for both individuals and their families, as well.
Qualifications for service in the Army and Air National Guard can vary based on career field, but all potential recruits must meet the following basic requirements: Be between the ages of 17 and 35 for the Virginia Army National Guard and between 17 and 39 for the Virginia Air National Guard; be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; be at least a high school junior or have a high school diploma or equivalent; achieve a minimum score on the ASVAB; and pass a medical screening and background check.
To contact a recruiter, become a PDC or submit a lead, visit the REP website at ngpa.us/22298