Active duty, National Guard, Reserves. What do all these terms mean? This post is created to tell you a little more about joining the National Guard. National Guard and Reserves unlike active duty most often are not full-time roles. Instead, they require you to serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year. It can give you the flexibility to serve without fully committing. But don’t think this doesn’t mean that you will not have to deploy or have your life interrupted by the military.
National Guard details
The Army and Air Force are the only two branches that have National Guard components. There is a total of 54 separate National Guard organizations. They consist of each state, the District of Columbia, the territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The National Guard responds to events within their territory, and can also be activated to help another state or entity and deploy overseas. National Guard members are controlled by their state’s governor but in 2007 the National Defense Authorization Act gave the President power to activate Guard members without the consent of the state’s governor.
Citizen Soldier or Airman
Most National Guard members work a civilian job during the week. They are required to meet their service commitment by drilling one weekend a month, and two weeks a year. But there are always full-time augmentees at each location. Active Guard Reserve (AGR) and Active Reserve Technicians (ART) serve in the Guard full time. They also receive the same benefits as active-duty members.
Some control in where you live
When signing up with the National Guard the unit you sign up with is the one, you’re typically assigned to. You will still go on active duty for boot camp training and technical school, but your first (and possibly) only assignment will be with the unit you signed up with. This allows the flexibility of serving the military but having control over where you live. Most members serve one weekend a month and are able to go to school or work full time along with their military service commitment.
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National Guard Activation
National Guard members can be activated to help during state emergencies, such as national disasters, pandemics, etc. They can also be activated by the President of the United States to deploy overseas for war. There are laws in place to help allow you to complete your yearly training requirement, along with protecting your job if you are activated.
You can switch from one National Guard unit to another unit. And you are not limited by the state you are currently living in. You also can switch from National Guard to Reserves. Or National Guard to Active Duty. It is all based on life circumstances and the needs of the military. Typical initial service commitments are six years but vary based on job choice, bonuses, and more.
Did this answer your questions about serving in the National Guard? Here are some stories from women who have served in the National Guard.