Military Times

2012 Insider's Guide to the Guard and Reserve

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Joining Up



Air Force Reserve components are structured exactly like active-duty units, with the full range of job specialties. Squadrons and wings of the Air Force Reserve routinely are called to participate in missions around the world, and drill schedules often do not follow the one-weekend-a-month, two-weeks-a-year structure.

Contact: To find a recruiter, call 800-257-1212 or visit

For information about the Air Force Reserve, visit


The Army Reserve is mainly a force of support troops. It actively recruits and provides incentives to veterans who have a combat service support or combat support MOS or who are willing to retrain into one of those skill fields.

Contact: Army Reserve recruiters are in the same offices as active-duty recruiters. Call 800-USA-ARMY (872-2769) or visit


The smallest of the reserve forces, the Coast Guard Reserve is looking for veterans from all services. In the current mobilization climate, a greater percentage of the Coast Guard Reserve has been recalled than any other reserve component.

The Coast Guard Reserve’s needs are specialized, but it has programs for veterans of all services with specific skills. It also has programs for high school seniors at least 17 years old and civilians up to age 40.

To be eligible to join the Coast Guard Reserve, you must not be employed in a civilian occupation essential to U.S. interests during a time of war, and you must not have served more than 13 years of active military duty.

Contact: Coast Guard Reserve and active-duty recruiters work in the same offices. To find a recruiter, call 877-NOW-USCG (669-8724) or go to

The official Coast Guard Reserve website is at

For information on reserve opportunities, go to


Sailors who complete the active-duty obligation of their first enlistment may affiliate with the Navy Reserve for the remainder of that enlistment. Dis­charged sailors can come into the Navy Reserve under the Navy Veteran program.

If you have been out for less than six years, you will likely enlist in the same paygrade. The paygrade for those out longer is based on length of time since discharge and the Navy’s need for individuals in your rating.

The Other Service Veteran program is for veterans from other service branches who want to enlist in the Navy Reserve. If you are a veteran officer with a commission from another branch of the military, you may apply for a Navy Reserve direct commission through the Interservice Transfer Program.

For veterans of other services, multiple programs are used to determine your temporary paygrade and the rank at which you can come back.

In one program in which you enlist for a minimum of three to four years, your temporary paygrade is determined by the length of time since your discharge.

If you’re within six years of discharge, your temporary paygrade is the same as when you were discharged. If you are six to eight years past discharge, your temporary paygrade is one paygrade less than held at discharge (minimum of E-3). If you’re eight to 10 years past discharge, your temporary paygrade is two paygrades less than held at discharge.

Candidates must have job classifications similar to those in the Navy and be able to complete 20 years of qualifying service for retirement by age 60.

The New Accession Training Program offers an opportunity for civilians with skills comparable to Navy ratings to enlist directly in the Navy Reserve. A member would attend active-duty boot camp, applicable “A” school and then report directly to a local reserve center.

For critical skills acquired through the military, college or civilian employment, the Navy Reserve offers a Direct Procurement Enlistment Program. This requires a three-year enlistment.

Contact: To locate a recruiter or for more information, call 800-872-8767 or visit


Marines on active duty who want to get into the Marine Corps Reserve should contact their career retention specialist or a prior service recruiter, located on every major base. Their job is to match you with a position in the Marine Corps Reserve, wherever you plan to settle once discharged.

If you have a skill that is critical, you may qualify for a cash bonus to enlist.

Although the Marine Corps prefers to fill its reserve ranks with former Marines, it will not turn down a veteran of another service with critical skills. Those entering the Marine Corps Reserve from another service are required to attend boot camp.

Contact: For more information, visit

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