Your ETS date is almost here. You still don’t know exactly what you are going to do with yourself after you get out. You have a job lined up, but you are not sure if it is going to be fulfilling enough. You are ready to get out of the military yet at the same time, you are not quite ready to let go altogether. Luckily, there is an option for you. You can join the National Guard or Reserves.
Not Ready to Let Go of the Military? Consider This.
But what does that decision look like?
This is what my husband decided to do in June of 2014. One day it was his last day of active duty and the next was his first day of being in the National Guard. This meant he was saying goodbye to one part of his service, but not saying goodbye entirely. We would still have military ID cards, we would still have Tricare, and we would still be considered a military family.
He would still wear the uniform, one weekend a month, two weeks a year. Some wear it a little more often than that, but it would no longer be every day. He would still be a part of the Army, just in a different role. He could hold a civilian job and go to his drills as they come up. He would be on call for a potential disaster and he could technically still deploy.
So what is the difference?
Deciding to join the National Guard or Reserves is not an easy decision to make. A lot of what you expect to happen after you ETS won’t happen if you do. You will still be a part of the military and will still have those responsibilities. You will still wear the uniform and carry the pride.
So if you are trying to decide if you should join the Guard or the Reserves after you ETS, think about these reasons to do so:
- You will still be a part of the military: You don’t have to say goodbye to the military. You will still be in the military, just in a different role. Leaving the military can be so hard for some people. Going into the Guard or Reserves can be a great way to still be connected with it without having to say goodbye 100%. What will the difference be? I recommend reading about what you should expect about about joining the National Guard here.
- You will still be able to keep Tricare, although you will no longer get it for free: When you are in the Guard or Reserves, healthcare works a little differently. We were able to keep Tricare, but we pay about $200 a month to do so and we have to make sure our doctors take Tricare Reserve Select. We have the same dental care but pay a little more each month to get it. This is cheaper than what my husband would get through his civilian job. If you are serving in the Guard or Reserve as AGR, then no changes will be made to your healthcare. What’s AGR? Active Guard Reserve (AGR), are soldiers and airmen serving in the National Guard under active duty orders. This means they are active duty military. They run units and provide full-time support to the National Guard. This means they lead, organize, recruit, instruct and train the part time members.
- You and your family will still have military IDs: Since you are staying in, you and your family will still have a military ID. This means you can still take advantage of different benefits like shopping at the Commissary and the PX. Plus, you qualify for military discounts, if offered.
- You can still get deployed: One factor in all of this is that you need to remember that you can still get deployed – either assisting with a local disaster in your state or for a deployment overseas. Never assume that you are done with that part of military life just because you are no longer active duty.
Before you make the decision to transition into the Guard or Reserves, make sure you talk to a recruiter, your spouse and even other family members about it to make sure the decision is the right one to make.