Bar to Reenlistment

Bar to Reenlistment

December 9, 2019

There is much confusion about what a bar to reenlistment is, what one is supposed to be used for, and the effects of one. This article will attempt to clarify that confusion for Army Enlisted Soldiers.

Bars to reenlistment are regulated by Army Regulation 601-280, chapter 8. Sometimes local commands will add a supplemental regulation as well; however, any supplemental regulation cannot contradict what is in AR 601-280.

A bar to reenlistment is a formal decision by a Commander, in writing, that a Soldier is currently ineligible for reenlistment because of his/her performance. A Commander can essentially bar a Soldier for any deficiency that he/she feels is warranted; however, as discussed below, there is a review that must be conducted. Soldiers cannot reenlist while a Commander has placed a bar to reenlistment on them.

Bars to reenlistment have to be reviewed every three months to determine if a Soldier has been properly rehabilitated. If, after the second three-month review, the Soldier is still ineligible for reenlistment because of their deficiencies, separation proceedings must be initiated.

Proper use of a bar to reenlistment is to motivate a Soldier to fix their deficiencies with a view towards rehabilitation. Commanders usually do not understand this. Often, Commanders will use bars to reenlistment as a punishment with a view towards separation; however, this is improper.  Soldiers should be given specific notice of their deficiencies with an opportunity to correct them.

As already stated, a Soldier cannot reenlist while a bar is placed on them. There are three categories of Soldiers that a bar to reenlistment affects differently: those who are close to their ETS, those who are not close to their ETS, and those that are serving on indefinite enlistments.

If a Soldier is serving on an indefinite enlistment, a bar to reenlistment has no effect on them. In fact, AR 601-280 specifically prohibits a bar to reenlistment being placed on them at all. If this situation applies to you or a Soldier you know contact Attorney Barry today.

If a Soldier is coming up on their ETS, they are blocked from reenlisting unless the bar is lifted. If a bar to reenlistment is in place when a Soldier ETSs, they will be given an Honorable Discharge. This is where it gets confusing.

Commanders across the Army think that in this situation a Soldier will never be allowed to re-enter the service. This is not necessarily true. A Soldier in this situation will receive a normal DD214 with an Honorable discharge. The bar to reenlistment will not be in a Soldier’s permanent file yet; however, AR 601-280 states “[i]f a Soldier is separated with a bar to reenlistment in place, a copy of DA Form 4126 (Bar to Reenlistment Certificate) will be scanned into iPERMS to be placed in the Soldier’s AMHRR.” Therefore, in order for the Command to “mark” a Soldier in this situation they will have to forward the bar to reenlistment certificate from the Soldier’s counseling packet to the S1 and trust that the S1 will upload it to their OMPF.

The other concern for a Soldier in this situation is the “reentry code” on their DD214. According to AR 601-210 a Soldier with a bar to reenlistment at the time of separation should get a reentry code of 3. A reentry code of 3 does not completely bar reentry into the service; however, it does require a waiver (an exception to this is if a Soldier has a Department of the Army level bar to reenlistment placed in their file; this is an absolute bar to reentry). Once again, the Army’s record keeping could save a Soldier here. If the transition center (who creates a Soldier’s DD214) does not know about the bar to reenlistment, then it won’t show up on a Soldier’s discharge certificate. A Soldier in this situation should pay close attention to the “reentry code” block on their DD214.

If a Soldier is not coming up on their ETS and the bar to reenlistment is not removed after two three-month reviews, separation proceedings will be initiated. The initiation of separation proceedings does not mean a Soldier will actually be separated – see Attorney Barry’s overview of Army Enlisted Separations for more information. If a Soldier is separated this way, a copy of the bar to reenlistment certificate will be uploaded to their OMPF. Likely, a Soldier in this situation will receive an Honorable Discharge; however, they will have a code on their DD214 indicating that they were separated for having a bar to reenlistment. This could hinder a Soldier’s ability to re-enter the service at a later time; however, it is not an absolute bar.

If a Command has placed a bar to reenlistment on a Soldier, their career is in jeopardy. Soldiers in this situation often have trouble getting their appointed JAG to pay appropriate attention to this matter; however, the assistance of an effective lawyer can save their career.

This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry

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