Military service often includes opportunities to serve or be stationed overseas, and that can mean one-time or recurring bonuses or stipends in addition to your military paycheck. One of the incentive pay programs for military personnel serving in foreign countries is the Overseas Tour Extension Incentive Program (OTEIP). The program’s aim is to improve retention and enhance unit readiness by rewarding personnel for extending an overseas assignment. OTEIP is distributed in three forms: monthly special pay, an annual bonus and Special Rest & Recuperation (SR&R).
OTEIP is available through the various branches of the military, but each branch has its own rules regarding who is eligible, how much is awarded, and how it’s applied. Generally, a servicemember must have served their original assignment in a designated overseas location, be working in a desired or in-demand military specialty, and agree to extend the service agreement at least 12 additional months at the current overseas location in order to qualify for OTEIP.
Air Force Eligibility for OTEIP
As of 2016, there are 23 Control Air Force Specialty Codes eligible for the Overseas Tour Extension Incentive Program:
- Host Aviation Resource Manager (IC071)
- Air Traffic Control (1C171)
- Combat Control (1C271)
- Command Control (1C571)
- Airfield Management (1C771)
- Aircrew Flight Equipment (1P091)
- Safety (1S071, 1S091)
- Pararescue (1T251, 1T271, 1T291)
- Aircraft Maintenance (2A373, 2A353L, 2A353M)
- Logistics Plans (2G071, 2G091)
- Emergency Management (3E931, 3E951, 3E971, 3E991)
- Military Working Dog Handler (3P051A)
- Mental Health Service (4C051, 4C071)
Navy Eligibility for OTEIP
Unlike the Air Force, which links OTEIP eligibility to career fields, the Navy’s criteria for eligibility is linked to location or the type of duty required by the orders. Specifically, members serving overseas on Type 3 (overseas remote land-based sea duty), Type 4 (overseas sea duty), or Type 6 (overseas shore duty) assignments would qualify for OTEIP. Members serving in Alaska and Hawaii on Type 2 assignments would also qualify. Rules state that personnel must complete a tour before they would qualify for OTEIP, and the benefits are not automatic and must be requested.
Unfortunately, members who are serving outside these areas (Type 2, 3, 4 or 6) on temporary additional duty (TEMADD) that exceeds 179 days during any 12-month period will not qualify for OTEIP.
OTEIP Entitlement and Rates
If your duty station or job field qualifies you for OTEIP, you can likely select from one of three options for how you receive the benefit. The option you select will vary by service branch, location of your duty station and the needs of the military. The three options are:
- A recurring payment of up to $80 per month
- An annual bonus of up to $2,000, payable in a lump sum or monthly installments
- Special Rest & Recuperation (SR&R) period of leave
Special Rest & Recuperation (SR&R) Leave
Forgoing one of the two options for additional money and opting for Special Rest & Recuperation (SR&R) leave also includes some rules and options for how you use the benefit and other perks.
- First, under no circumstances can SR&R exceed 30 days.
- Second, SR&R leave cannot exceed 15 days if your original qualifying tour is 12 months or less. You can also receive round-trip transportation at the government’s expense from an overseas location to the nearest CONUS port. You could also opt for government-funded transportation to any location in the world as long as it doesn’t exceed the cost of the ticket to the CONUS.
- Finally, SR&R leave cannot exceed 20 days if the original qualifying tour is longer than 12 months. Again, you can also get round-trip transportation at the government’s expense from an overseas location to the nearest CONUS port. You could also opt for government-funded transportation to any location in the world as long as it doesn’t exceed the cost of the ticket to the CONUS.
Termination of Overseas Pay
While receiving OTEIP is a nice incentive for extending service in an overseas location, there are some guardrails for when you would no longer qualify and how long the benefit is received. First, a voluntary termination of duty on the servicemember’s part would end payments on the day of PCS departure. Second, voluntary or involuntary early termination of overseas duty would stop further monthly bonus installments and require the return of any unearned installments paid in advance. As a note, any circumstances requiring an involuntary departure would have no impact on the scheduled monthly special pay.
OTEIP Exceptions and Curtailments
In most cases, it is expected that any member who volunteers for and receives an OTEIP extension will complete the 12-month extension. The acceptable reasons for curtailment of the extension are very limited and include:
- Pregnant members at dependent restricted locations
- Humanitarian or Exceptional Family Member Program conditions
- Mission-directed changes that prevent completion of the extension.
About The Author
Craig Richardson is a military veteran who started his journalism career while serving in the Navy. Following overseas deployments to the Med and Middle East, including service in Operation Desert Storm, he left for the private sector but continued with journalism. He has worked for several publishers and news organizations over nearly 30 years and continued to cover stories with ties to veterans and military affairs throughout his career.
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- N.A. (ND) Type Duty Codes. Retrieved from https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/Support-Services/Distribution-Management/Type-Duty-Codes/