New law gives reenlistment bonuses to Minnesota National Guard service members

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 6:54 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – People join the military for a variety of reasons, but now, soldiers in the Minnesota National Guard have even more reason to stay: a reenlistment bonus.

Sen. Jeff Howe (R) of Rockville pushed the bill forward. A 38 year veteran himself, he knows firsthand what these bonuses mean.

“They cut off reenlistment bonuses to anyone with 12 years of service or more,” Howe said. “They really believe that once you get over 10 year, 12 years, they’ve got you. You’re going to stay until 20. They figured that’s the way it always works.”

According to Howe, in today’s military climate, that’s not how its working.

“This bill needed to happen because we got to stop losing our mid grade folks who are the key, strength and back bone of our military guard,” he said. “And this just made sense to do.”

It makes soldiers like First Class Platoon Sgt. Alexander Birdsall and Leader Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion Sgt. Shawn Dolsen, eligible for the boost.

“It kind of caught me by surprise,” Birdsall said. “There’s been a long standing attitude in the military. We’re counting on your to stay in. Those soldiers in the 12 to 17 year range have kind of been taken advantage of.”

Birdsall is nearing 20 years of service.

“I know a lot of people that have gotten out after 15, 16 years because there’s no incentive to stay,” Dolsen said. “And there goes all that experience.”

Dolsen said that experience is valuable in the military. It makes training go faster, smoother and motivates younger soldiers to stay in, too.

While an incentive to keep experience leaders in the guard, it’s also a thank you.

“You’ve been in this far, its almost like an extra thank you,” Birdsall said.

The bill was signed into law by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Sunday night. The Minnesota National Guard tells KTTC that the implementation details are still being worked out.

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