If you would like to join the military but do not want the long-term commitment and would like to reduce the possibility of being deployed, enlistment in the National Guard is a better option. The National Guard requires members to attend boot camp training upon enlistment. After this, you are required to attend training drills one weekend per month and a separate two-week period once a year. Failure to attend these drills has consequences that vary by state.
If there is a good reason that you are going to be unable to attend your scheduled weekend training, it is best to call your chain of command to discuss the issue. Having to work, attending a family birthday party or going out on a date do not qualify as legitimate reasons to miss your session. Call your chain of command so you can discuss with him the validity of your excuse and to properly excuse yourself. If your excuse is deemed valid, you will not suffer any of the consequences associated with missing a drill weekend.
Failure to call before you miss your drill weekend or immediately thereafter is considered an unexcused absence by the military. In the military, missing 4 hours of a required training equals one unexcused absence. Therefore, an entire weekend can add up to four unexcused absences. In some states, when you reach a certain number of unexcused absences, commonly six, you may be demoted in the National Guard. After nine unexcused absences, or a third missed weekend within a year, you may be released.
Some states reduce your pay when you miss a drill weekend. This is one of the more lenient punishments for missing a drill weekend. If you only miss a part of the weekend, your pay would be docked accordingly. However, if you miss the entire weekend, you will lose that weekend's pay, as well as risk losing your pay for the entire month. While the National Guard is a part-time obligation, you have still signed a contract and it is your job.
Make It Up
In some states, you are required to make up any missed drill weekends that you have. This allows you to maintain your obligation while still allowing you some flexibility, especially if you have valid reasons for needing to change the weekend. The validity of any reasons is up to your chain of command. However, many National Guard groups need you to be there on your assigned weekend and will not allow you to switch weekends frequently, but rather on an emergency basis.
While many of the consequences for missing a National Guard training weekend are fairly mild in comparison to punishments for going missing from active duty, some states do have more severe consequences for repeat offenders. In some states, you may be arrested for your absences from drill weekends. This is very rare, however, and those states that do have these consequences typically use it as a last resort after you have been warned and still repeatedly miss your drills.
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