Reenlistment in the Navy is a big decision. You've served well throughout your enlistment contract, or perhaps you've hit a few bumps but recovered and wish to continue on active duty. If this is your decision, do not wait until the last minute. Proper planning and communication with your chain of command and your career counselor starting up to a year from your contract expiration will help your transition from one enlistment to the next be a seamless and easy process. You can take the first step, by verifying your eligibility to reenlist before you begin the application process.
All sailors, regardless of how many enlistments you have served, are required to meet certain standards in order to be eligible for reenlistment. While many think that reenlistment is a right at the end of their term, this is incorrect. Reenlistment is actually a privilege given to those sailors that meet the standards set by the Navy for those they wish to continue in service.
The biggest factor is the reenlistment code on your DD-214. You must be classified as RE-1 to be eligible to reenlist.
You must also pass a comprehensive medical record review and physical examination. This process can take some time, and should be started at least six months prior to your desired reenlistment date. Doing so will give you sufficient time to clear up any findings which could otherwise render you ineligible to remain on active duty.
Physical fitness standards also must be maintained in order to be able to reenlist. If you have failed your most recent physical fitness assessment, you can extend your current enlistment long enough to attempt the assessment again the next cycle, but you will not be able to reenlist without a passing score.
Finally, you must be recommended for retention on your most recent performance evaluation. Many sailors mistakenly believe that you have to be recommended for advancement as well, but this is false.
Perform to Serve
If you are approaching the end of your first enlistment, you have a bit more of a process to go through when desiring to reenlist. This process is known as Perform to Serve, and is a formal application submitted up through your command. You can of course apply to reenlist in your current rating, or can indicate willingness to cross over into an undermanned rating if you are currently in a rating designated as overmanned. This can help your chances for quick approval if you are in a rating where competition for reenlistment is tough.
The application, along with your Commanding Officer's endorsement, are sent up to the Naval Personnel Command for processing and approval. Your application is ranked among those of your peers based upon your rank, advancement status, Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) code and the average of your last two promotion recommendations. From these rankings, you will either be approved to reenlist in your current rating, approved to reenlist if you transfer to an undermanned rating, approved to transfer into the reserves or denied reenlistment.
Incentives and Options
Despite the overall trend in downsizing the Navy, and the more competitive nature of reenlistment, if you are in a critical rating or hold a critical NEC, you may still be offered some very attractive incentives to "stay Navy." Reenlistment bonuses of up to 60,000 dollars are offered to sailors in the highest demand.
If you are not in a critical rating, conversion programs make it possible for you to obtain these bonuses as well by crossing into one of these critical fields. Your bonus will be guaranteed at reenlistment, contingent upon completion of training for your new rating or NEC. These bonuses are not paid out at reenlistment, but rather at the end of training when the requirements are met.