Joining the Military as a Reservist | Military OneSource (2024)


6 minute readFeb. 1, 2024

Joining the Military as a Reservist | Military OneSource (1)

Joining the Reserve Component of the military is a great way to serve your country. You will also earn valuable benefits without giving up your civilian employment or schooling.

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Many people transfer to the reserves from the active component. But you can join the National Guard or military reserves without prior military experience. There are small differences among the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve. But most have the same requirements, obligations and federal benefits. National Guard members who perform state active duty are eligible for state benefits.

Am I eligible to join the National Guard or military reserves?

You must meet these minimum requirements to join the National Guard or military reserves:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 42 (general requirement range; age varies by branch).
  • Pass an armed forces physical exam.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.
  • Meet the minimum ASVAB eligibility standard. You must receive a sufficient score on the ASVAB composite called the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

Each branch or specific job may have other requirements in addition to those listed above.

How do I join the National Guard or military reserves?

The first step is to contact a recruiter. Your recruiter will explain the process and available opportunities. Speaking with recruiters from different branches can help you get an idea of which branch you would like to join. You can also find out more information at the recruiting websites for each branch:

The process could go quickly or slowly, depending on different factors. Sometimes you can get through the requirements very quickly. It can also take weeks or months from when you first contact a recruiter to when you leave for your military training.

What’s my obligation if I join the National Guard or military reserves?

Joining the military reserves or National Guard is a significant time commitment. This is true, especially at the beginning. You will get settled in your permanent unit. Then, you can expect to attend unit assembly, known as “drill,” one weekend per month. You will also participate in a two-week annual training each year.

  • Initial training: As a new military member, you will attend your branch’s basic military training. That may last from eight to 12 weeks. Depending on your job, you may also attend an advanced training course.
  • Monthly drill: You’ll need to drill for 48 periods or units per year. Most units drill one weekend per month. A typical weekend drill has four periods. Some military units have additional drilling requirements, which may include the weekday.
  • Annual training: You’ll also need to participate in annual training for two weeks per year.
  • Activations: You may be activated to full-time service in a voluntary or involuntary status. This can be with your unit or individually. These activations may vary in length and location. They may include 30 days in a unit near your hometown. Or up to a year supporting a mission outside of the United States. Generally, you cannot opt out of involuntary action. This is because the military has ordered you to active service.
  • Length of commitment: Your total contract may range from three to eight years. This depends on the branch of service and your specific occupation/job.

What kind of benefits will I earn?

For your commitment to the National Guard or military reserves, you’ll receive many benefits including:

  • Part-time pay: Reserve component pay is based on rank and service time. Bonuses are sometimes available for high-demand and low-density skills. Your pay will be based upon the Active Duty Pay Table during full-time and annual training, and active duty. You will receive prorated payment while on partial-month duty. This will be calculated using the daily rate. Learn more aboutBasic Pay, the fundamental component of military pay.
  • Skills training: You’ll be trained for your reserve component job. The selection of jobs available will depend on the needs of the military and your ASVAB scores.
  • Health care coverage: TRICARE Reserve Selectis subsidized, fee-based health care coverage. It is for reservists and their families when the military member is not on active-duty orders. Reservists on active duty for more than 30 days receive comprehensive medical and dental care at no cost. While their service member is activated for more than 30 days, family members receivehealth care coverage.
  • Education: Selected reserve or National Guard members who have signed up for at least six years can access up to three years of educational assistance. This benefit is available through theMontgomery GI Bill® for Selected Reserve. Additional funding may be available for certain high-demand fields. Reservists may also earn Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, which may be transferred to eligible dependents when certain eligibility criteria are met.
  • Commissary and exchange privileges: Reserve component members and their eligible dependents have full-time access to on-base shopping. This includes the discounted food and department stores.
  • Retirement: Service in the reserve component earns points toward areserve retirement.

Joining the National Guard or military reserves can be a great way to serve your country without leaving your full-time job. Once you decide to join, you can learn more about your new community. See Military OneSource’sNew Service Member resources. Military OneSource can answer your questions about military life. Call 800-342-9647 or connect via Live Chat 24/7/365. OCONUS/International? View calling options.

Joining the Military as a Reservist | Military OneSource (2024)


Joining the Military as a Reservist | Military OneSource? ›

Overview. Joining the National Guard

the National Guard
The National Guard is a joint activity of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) composed of reserve components of the United States Army and the United States Air Force: the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, respectively. › National_Guard_(United_States)
or reserves
A military reserve force is a military organization whose members (reservists) have military and civilian occupations. They are not normally kept under arms, and their main role is to be available when their military requires additional manpower. › wiki › Military_reserve_force
is a good way to stay connected to the benefits of military life while fully participating in civilian life. Reserve duty
Reserve duty
In reserve duty (or reserve service; Hebrew: שירות מילואים, Sherut Milu'im), Israeli residents who have completed military service are assigned to the Israel Defense Forces' military reserve force to provide reinforcements during emergencies (war, military operations or natural disasters), and as a matter of routine ... › wiki › Reserve_duty_(Israel)
is also a viable path to military retirement which can be obtained through 20 years of combined active and reserve service.

Can reservists use Military OneSource? ›

Eligibility for all Military OneSource services

Active-duty immediate family members, including spouses, children and anyone who has legal responsibility for the service member's children during separation for the child's benefit. National Guard and reserve service members regardless of their activation status.

Can you join the military as a reservist? ›

Joining the Reserve Component of the military is a great way to serve your country. You will also earn valuable benefits without giving up your civilian employment or schooling.

Who is eligible for Military OneSource? ›

Who is eligible for Military OneSource non-medical counseling? Active-duty service members and their immediate family members. National Guard and reserve service member (regardless of activation status) and their immediate family members who are listed in DEERS.

Can a reservist get the GI Bill? ›

The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program offers up to 36 months of education and training benefits. If you're a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard, you may be eligible for this benefit.

Are reservists eligible for TRICARE? ›

TRICARE is the Department of Defense's premier health care program serving 9.6 million active duty service members, retired service members, National Guard and Reserve members, family members, and survivors worldwide. As a TRICARE beneficiary, you have access to the health care you need wherever you are.

Are current reservists considered veterans? ›

Veteran has the meaning given the term in 38 U.S.C. 101(2). A Reservist or member of the National Guard called to Federal active duty or disabled from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty or while in training status also qualify as a veteran.

Which military branch pays the most for reserves? ›

Is it the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or Space Force? At a basic pay level, the answer is simple. The military pays the same regardless of branch, according to your pay grade and years of service. Your rank determines your pay grade.

How much does an E5 Reservist make? ›

Rank<2 Years Experience4 Years Experience
Private (E2)$4,371.46$4,371.46
Private First Class (E3)$4,596.50$5,181.72
Specialist or Corporal (E4)$5,091.82$5,928.18
Sergeant (E5)$5,552.92$6,507.02
2 more rows

Can you live on a military base as a Reservist? ›

While active-duty members join the Military on a full-time basis, National Guard and Reserve members serve in a part-time capacity and live in housing within their civilian communities.

How much is the Military OneSource contract? ›

ValueOptions Federal Services received a potential five-year, $422.6M contract from the General Services Administration's Federal Systems Integration and Management Center to manage a commercial employee assistance program for U.S. military personnel and their families.

How do I access Military OneSource? ›

Military OneSource from the Defense Department is your 24/7 gateway to trusted information, resources and confidential help. When MilLife happens, it's your “first line of support” — giving service members and military families tools to stay well and thrive. Call us anytime at 800-342-9647 — we're here for you.

How long can veterans use Military OneSource? ›

Take advantage of Military OneSource services for up to 365 days after your transition.

What benefits do reservists get? ›

VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, home loan guaranty, education, health care, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial. Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Program supports and enhances the mobilization readiness of the Reserve components.

Do Reserves get bah? ›

Army Reserve Soldiers on active duty are eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing. Basic Allowance for Housing rates are based on local area rental market data and vary by geographic duty station, pay grade and dependency status. The cost of utilities is also considered.

Can I get VA benefits if I was a reservist? ›

Reserve members who serve on active duty qualify for many VA benefit programs, including those who serve as part of the Active Guard Reserve. Learn more about your Reserve National Guard VA benefits, such as Education, Home Loans, Disability Compensation, and Pension.

Are reservists military personnel? ›

Reserve enlisted personnel are not on active duty, have not signed a contract to perform military service as reservists, and have not reached the upper age limit. Reservists have civilian status, except when they are performing military duties.

Can Reservist claim veterans preference? ›

For non-disabled users, active duty for training by National Guard or Reserve soldiers does not qualify as "active duty" for preference. For disabled veterans, active duty includes training service in the Reserves or National Guard, per the Merit Systems Protection Board decision in Hesse v.

Does USERRA apply to reservists? ›

USERRA is a Federal law intended to ensure that persons who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserve, National Guard, or other uniformed Services: (1) are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service; (2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty; and (3 ...

What military benefits do reservists get? ›

These benefits may include education benefits, home loans, insurance, disability compensation, and pension.


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