When officers are commissioned in the U.S. Army Reserve, they incur an 8-year service obligation split between their Reserve units and the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). However, when Army Reserve officers fulfill their contracts, they are not automatically decommissioned. Resigning an Army Reserve commission is not a complicated process, but it can be a lengthy endeavor. And in a time of war, Army Reserve officers are in high demand: even after their 8-year commitment has expired, officers may find their resignation requests denied.
Compile a compelling case. Once an Army Reserve officer has decided to apply for resignation, he must cite valid reasons. As stated by Shelley Murphy in the Boston Globe, the Army reserve weighs a resignation request based on three factors: shortage of specialty officers, previous deployments and personal hardships. If an Army Reserve officer possesses a Military Occupational Speciality (MOS) that is in desperate need, or if he has earned valuable experience while deployed, resignation may be difficult. However, qualified resignations (those founded on personal hardships) have a higher percentage of acceptance than unqualified resignations, and Army Reserve officers should attempt to draft a qualified request.
Receive permission to resign from the senior officer in the Army Reserve unit. Army Reserve officers wishing to resign their commissions must first appeal to the colonel or the first general officer in their chain of command. This is usually achieved through submitting a standardized letter that cites relevant Army Reserve regulations, including the specifics of the officer's contract. Resignation requests do not have to be endorsed at the unit level, especially if the paperwork is not in order, but most colonels and high-ranking officers are willing to support their personnel.
Forward the resignation request to the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC). While individual Army Reserve units must endorse an officer's wish for resignation, those units do not have the final say in whether an officer is decommissioned. The USARC is the authority on determining whether an Army Reserve officer has a valid reason for requesting a resignation and whether her application is qualified or unqualified. An official reply may take over a month, and once it is received, there is no way to appeal the decision.
Tips & Warnings
- While there is no formal method for appealing a rejected resignation request, some Army Reserve officers have successfully received honorable discharges by filing lawsuits for breach of contract.
- It is important to remain respectful throughout the resignation process. If an Army Reserve officer's request is denied, he is still required to serve. Making enemies along the way can gravely impact the officer's relationship with other soldiers.
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