Joining Can I serve full-time in the Guard?
Yes. The Guard has several types of full-time employees. Within each state there are full-time personnel who manage the day-to-day operations of the units in their state or territorial Guard. These soldiers serve in a status known as "Title 32", which refers to the section of the US Code that they are governed by.
In addition to their full-time positions, these soldiers serve with a unit in a traditional status (drilling on weekends) as well. These positions are managed by each state’s Military Personnel Office, part of the State Area Command (STARC).
There is also a federal active duty force, which is centrally managed by National Guard Bureau and the Army National Guard Directorate in Washington, DC. These soldiers serve in a "Title 10" status and are not required to drill with units. The core of the Title 10 force is stationed at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, VA, a few miles from the Pentagon. Additionally, there are Title 10 officers serving across the nation and worldwide as an interface between the Guard and other agencies.
Do I have to go to Basic Training?
If you have never served in any branch of the military, you will have to attend the Army’s eight-week basic training. In addition, you will have to attend a period of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) which teaches your specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). The length of AIT varies widely with MOS.
Ho w long do I have to join for?
If you have never served in any branch of the military, there are several enlistment options. Initially, soldiers can serve for as little as three years, with longer periods available as well. Some benefits are based upon the length of your initial enlistment. Veterans who have served in any branch of the military have additional options available to them including a "Try One" program which allows a veteran to serve for only one year on a trial basis before committing to a full enlistment. A recruiter can provide further details.
How will my membership in the National Guard affect my civilian job?
Generally, membership in the Guard has a positive influence on civilian jobs. The skills and leadership you acquire are sought after by many employers. Some soldiers find their civilian and military jobs complement each other, while others seek to add diversity to their lives and skills by serving in a capacity quite different than their civilian occupation. Regardless, your membership within the Guard should not have a negative impact on your civilian employment. There are federal laws prevent employers from discriminating against an employee due to his or her membership in the National Guard. In addition, if you are called to active service, your employer is required by law to allow you to return to the same job you had when you left. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve organization has a web site located at http://www.esgr.org/ that can provide additional information.
Once I join the Guard can I switch jobs or units? Transfers within the National Guard are handled within the units involved on a case-by-case basis. Factors such as unit needs, individual skills, unit locations and career goals are considered. If you move more than 50 miles away from your unit you may transfer to a closer unit. If you move to another state or territory, you can transfer to the Guard of that location.
What are the qualifications I must meet to join the National Guard? The National Guard has physical, academic and legal qualifications.
- You must be in good health and have no major physical handicaps.
- The minimum age to join the National Guard is 17.
- Persons under age 18 must obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian.
- You must be either currently in high school or have a high school diploma or GED.
- You must also obtain a minimum qualifying score on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery exam (ASVAB). Soon after you contact a recruiter, they will administer this test to see if you are qualified. Your ASVAB score will also determine which MOS’s you are qualified for.
- Finally, you must have no major criminal convictions. This information is only a basic outline of the qualifications.
Before enlisting you will be receive a detailed medical examination and background check. Your recruiter will provide you with more exact information and make recommendations regarding your qualification status.
What are the service obligations in the National Guard?
Army National Guard members are required to attend one drill weekend each month and one annual training period each year. Weekend drills are usually scheduled over one weekend – a Saturday and Sunday each month, but can occasionally include reporting for duty on Friday night. In addition, units have a two week annual training (AT) period every year which is usually scheduled during the summer. Initially, all personnel are required to attend initial entry training (IET), which can usually be scheduled to meet civilian occupation scheduling requirements. Duration and location of IET varies according to career specialty – a recruiter can provide specific information for each Military Occupational Specialty.