When you entered the military service you incurred a military service obligation
of eight years. This is called your statutory military service obligation.
Therefore, if you are separating prior to fulfilling eight years of active
service, you probably have not completed your statutory obligation. You can
fulfill your remaining obligation in several ways. There are substantial differences
between each of your military service options. Your choice will determine how
much time you must devote and the benefits you receive.
Regardless of your military service obligation, you should consider reserve
affiliation as an important part of your transition plan. Affiliation can earn
you additional income, valuable training and experience, credit towards military
retirement and important contacts with other reservists in your community.
You may voluntarily sign an agreement to serve for between one and eight years
in a National Guard or Reserve unit or a Reserve individual program. Upon becoming
a member, you may be recalled to active duty in time of war or national emergency.
You may also be ordered to active duty involuntarily for up to 270 days without
a declaration of national emergency. Members participate and train, as required,
by the category in which they belong. For National Guard and Reserve unit programs,
this usually means one weekend a month and two weeks of annual training per year.
For Reserve individual programs, the training requirement may be somewhat less.
Inactive National Guard
Currently, only the Army maintains an Inactive National Guard. This consists
of National Guard personnel in an inactive status; they are attached to a specific
National Guard unit, but are not required to participate in training. As a member
of the Inactive National Guard, you would mobilize with your unit. To remain
a member, you must muster once a year with your assigned unit.
Individual Ready Reserve
The Individual Ready Reserve consists mainly of individuals who have had training
and who have served previously in the active component. Other IRR members come
from the Selected Reserve and have some of their military service remaining.
As an IRR member, you may be involuntarily recalled upon declaration of a national
emergency. Otherwise, participation requirements may include an annual day
of muster duty to satisfy statutory screening requirements.
Priority placement in a Selected Reserve unit is authorized for certain Eligible
Involuntary separatees who apply within one year after their separation. Your
installation's retention or personnel office can assist you. If you have already
separated, visit the Reserve or National Guard website or contact the local
recruiter listed in your telephone directory.
If you have served eight years or more of active duty, you no longer have a
military service obligation. Therefore, you do not have to affiliate with the
National Guard or Reserves. You may, however, wish to sign up voluntarily with
the Standby Reserve. In the event of a national emergency, members of the Standby
Reserve may be involuntarily mobilized. As the term "standby" implies,
these reservists will only be mobilized once it has been determined that there
are insufficient numbers of qualified members in the Ready Reserve to do the
job. There are no other participation or training requirements.
Where to Learn More About or to Sign Up for the Reserves
If you are interested in joining the Reserves, keep in mind that there are
a limited number of positions available. The sooner you review your options,
the better your chances of finding a good position by the time you separate.
- While you are in the military, contact your installation's Reserve Component
Career Counselor who will provide you with information about your obligations and
- Once you are out, visit the Reserve or National Guard website or contact the
nearest unit listed in your local telephone directory. Any recruiting office will
be happy to refer you to the appropriate recruiter. In addition, there is a recruiter
at every Guard and Reserve unit.
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