Serving in the United States Armed Services can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. One problem that some would-be recruits have is in finding what branch of the military is right for them. While others will continue a long and proud family tradition of serving their country, others will be faced with deciding what to do and where to go.
If you are considering serving in the National Guard, then you no doubt have questions about the experience. To help you make your decision, lets take a moment to review the pros and cons. Along with getting into the most important things that a new recruit will have to consider, we will take an objective look at how your time spent in the Military can benefit, and at times, detract from how you want to live your life. With that being said, lets get started.
Pros of the National Guard
Serving ones nation is a calling for many. There is a great deal of honor and respect for those who actively work to protect US citizens. Often raised onto a platform, these men and women signify the best aspects of self-sacrifice and duty to their country. In addition, there are a number of secondary benefits that come from serving in the National Guard.
1. Continued Service for People Leaving Active Duty
The National Guard is a way for people to continue serving their country. Putting you talents and efforts towards something greater then yourself, the National Guard allows for a more flexible deployment where you can still do good. For many people who have grown up with the military, the National Guard is seen as a way to slowly ease back into civilian life. In addition, it can be a comfortable environment for many people to occasionally return to. Finally, it is the best way to stay connected with the military long after full-time service is over.
2. Training and Schooling
One of the reasons why people join the military is because it pays them to get job experience. As every person takes the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Examination prior to enlisting, you can select from a number of different careers that can include and are not limited to engineering, aviation, military, police, and medical services. In addition, your combat training will teach you things like combat, tactical skills, and even marksmanship. Along with training, the National Guard provides members with higher education options. For example, you can get federal tuition fee assistance when you go into school. In addition, you may be eligible for Student Loan Repayment Programs that will save you a lot of money. Qualification depends on the amount of time you serve and your job level.
3. A Mix of Civilian and Military
The National Guard employs you for one weekend every month after you go through basic training and AIT. You will get paid based on this time. In addition, the part-time nature of the work will allow you to have more time to pursue your civilian obligations. While drill pay may not be as high as some people want, it doesn’t hurt.
4. A Greater Level of Personal Stability
The National Guard Reserves is an excellent place providing personal stability for officers who have yet to get their eight years of active duty. For those who do not see their active duty all the way through for their eight years, then there is a military service obligation that still needs to be met. The primary option available to people in this position is working through he IRR. However, the IRR can be recalled back to active duty during a time of war or when there is a national emergency. Being in the National Guard means that you can get a 12 or 24-month stabilization, meaning that you will not be deployed during that time. For many people attending business school during this time, a stabilization can what you need to finish your degree.
Cons of the National Guard
There are advantages and disadvantages to every option you make. The US Military, and the National Guard are no different. Before signing up, it pays to know the bad as well as the good. With that in mind, lets review some of the most common problems people have with National Guard service.
1. Consider Deployment
When serving in the National Guard, there is a chance of deployment. This means that you may be ordered to help people during a state of emergency, and you will be obligated to go. With every deployment comes exposure to potential risk. While this is not as bad when you are by yourself, it becomes more challenging when you are supporting a loved one or family. Along with being in a different place, there are a great deal of emotional hurtles that you have to get over when it comes to being apart from family for extended periods of time. While some people fall into this easily, other people will struggle with it throughout their employment.
2. Considering the Commitment Involved
Some individuals will struggle with he commitment requirements for joining the National Guard. When you join, you must enlist for a 6 or 8 year term. When you commit, you are obligated to show and can face serious problems if you refuse to show up when ordered to. Being committed to the National Guard means having less time for school. When juggling both school and service, both can become significantly more challenging. You may want to do nothing more then prepare for class. Instead, you will have drills, obligations and places to be instead.
3. Less Time For Your Needs
People are complex, and will sometimes require more time for themselves in order to be everything they can be. When you are a part of the National Guard, you are providing to the military some of your time. This means that you will have less time for your own personal needs. While this may not seem like much at first, it can dramatically reduce the amount you move around, the kinds of vacations you take, and even the opportunities that are available to you. For example, complications can arise if you get a job that pays twice what you earn and it is in another state. In addition, if you are suddenly overcome to do something like hike the Appalachian Trail, you will have little to no opportunity to do this if you are in the National Guard.
As with any decision, it is important to remember that service to US Military is a trade off. On the one hand, you get to work towards securing your country and providing assistance when it is needed the most. You become what other people rely on, and you can really make a difference. On the other hand, it can postpone your personal plans, take you away from your family, and even delay starting a family. In the end, any decision you make will have to be based on your strengths and weaknesses as much as on any list. With that being said, good luck making your decision.