The Army National Guard is primarily composed of civilians who serve their country, state and community on a part-time basis (typically one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer) and receive training for future careers in various fields. As provided for by the United States Constitution, there are 54 Army National Guards established within the 50 states including Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.
As a military branch that serves both federal and state governments, the Army National Guard can be called on to respond to missions from state governors (for local or statewide emergencies such as fires, earthquakes or storms) or the President of the United States (to participate in federal missions such as being deployed overseas for stabilization operations). For example, in 2005 deployment of National Guard troops was initiated after Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of Louisiana and Mississippi to help with the recovery efforts.
To qualify for enlistment, you must have a high school diploma or GED, be currently enrolled in high school and expect to graduate, or be willing to earn your GED through the National Guard’s GED program. You must also be between ages 17 and 42 (if you have never served in the military), although certain states have lower age limits. In addition, you must meet the height, weight and physical condition requirements established by the Army Physical Fitness Test Standards.
After enlistment, you will need to choose your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). There are more than 150 MOS options in various fields such as aviation, medical, infantry, transportation, mechanic and maintenance, administrative, special forces, engineer and logistics support. Your training period will depend on your chosen field. For example, joining the medical field consists of advanced individual training ranging from six to 54 weeks depending on your chosen specialty, while joining the Infantry involves five to eight weeks.
Earnings and Benefits
The total compensation package includes a monthly paycheck, cash incentives, enlistment bonuses, medical and retirement benefits, educational funding and other benefits. Earnings depend on your rank, job and educational level and include active duty pay (for any time spent in training and deployment), drill pay (two days and one weekend per month) and annual training pay (two weeks each year). Additional benefits include free travel on military planes, shopping discounts at military installations, Veteran’s Administration (VA) home loans, referral bonuses and life insurance.
Term of Employment
The enlistment period is eight years, but you may also opt to serve only three or six years and spend the remainder of the period in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). Members of the IRR don’t train with a unit, however they can still be called to serve in the event of an emergency.
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