Advice for Army Soldiers About to ETS from the National Guard or Army Reserve

Today, I want to share some advice and tips for Soldiers about to ETS from the Army.  These are some recommended tips that I learned during my 15+ year career that I often shared with the Soldiers under my authority.  Enjoy.

# 1 Have a Game Plan – I don’t think there is anything wrong with leaving the Army.  We will all make that decision at some point or another in our career.  That being said, it makes sense to have a game plan before you ETS from the Army.  Make sure that you are 100% sure you want to ETS.  If you are still sitting on the fence and are undecided, it might be in your best interest to learn about the IRR, IMA and ING programs, so you don’t leave the military entirely (in case you have a change of heart).  The last thing you want to do is leave the Army without a plan and end up homeless living on the street, or end up moving back in with your parents.

# 2 Keep a Good Attitude – There are few things I can’t stand more than the “short-timer’s attitude.”  Just because you are close to your ETS date, don’t cop and attitude.  Don’t act like you don’t care anymore.  Don’t be sarcastic or disrespectful.  Stay professional.  Do your job and do it well, until the day your time is up.  This is probably the one thing that people mess up the most.

# 3 Double Check All of Your Military Records – It would be in your best interest to double check all of your military records (personnel and training files) before you ETS.  Make sure you have copies of everything.  Make sure everything is in IPERMS, updated and accurate.  If there is a discrepancy, get it fixed before you ETS.  The last thing you want to do is try to find a missing certificate or piece of paperwork after you’ve left the Army.

# 4 Speak with an Army Career Counselor – Even if your heart is set on leaving the Army (that’s fine) make sure you sit down with a career counselor and listen to what they have to say.  Find out what options are available to you, even if you think you won’t be interested.  Pick their brain and see what they have to offer you.  You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

# 5 Find Out About Your Benefits and Entitlements – Speak with the career counselor, your S1, your chain of command, and the subject matter experts about what your entitlements and benefits are.  If you served honorably, you are entitled to certain things.  You might as well figure out what those things are before you ETS, so you know what options are available to you in the months and years to come.

# 6 Have a Job Lined Up – I would highly suggest that you have a job lined up before you ETS.  This could be a full-time or part-time position.  If you don’t plan on working at a job, and will going to be a college student instead, make sure you know the ins and outs of your education benefits.  It would also be in your best interest to update your resume and sit down with a civilian job recruiter before you ETS, just to see what is available in the marketplace.

# 7 Inspect and Account for All Your OCIE and Property – About two to three months before your ETS date, make sure you do an inventory of all of your OCIE and any property you might be signed for.  If anything is missing, get it replaced before the final inventory.  Update your shortage annexes and hand receipts.  Doing these inspections ahead of time will save you time and money when you turn everything in.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are seven things I recommend you do before you ETS from the Army.  A little bit of planning goes a long ways.

What do you think?  What tips can you give to Soldiers who are about to ETS?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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