One amazing benefit to the National Guard is that we don’t have to PCS around the country or world every few years; we can serve right at home. The big pull is that we serve our communities as well as our nation. While this works great for most people, some end up moving to other states for many reasons (family, civilian job, etc).
Some Soldiers are like me, who joined in one state and then realized they went to college in another state. Yep! I enlisted into the California ARNG in between years at Oregon State University. I did one or two drills with my recruiter doing a lot of fun stuff (like rafting down the Sacramento River and doing CTT). When I went back to OSU, I went to the local recruiters office to ask them one simple question:
“What’s the most cost effective way for me to get to drill down in California when I am a PV1 and driving takes a long time?” (I thought I was fortunate only living 8 hours away). The recruiter looked at me like I was an idiot, and then told me that I needed to do one simple thing: Interstate Transfer.
I honestly didn’t even know this was an option, or that it was something that happened. I thought we had to report to whatever unit we joined, no matter where it was. I was pretty naïve, but you have to commend my willingness to do the right thing. I feel like it is important to talk about interstate transfers, so you can help yourself, or help your buddy.
When I went through my IST experience, it was very easy. My recruiter jotted down a few basic notes, such as my SSN, MOS, and the like. He found me a slot and processed the necessary forms with my old unit. What I gathered from that is that it is a team effort to help this process go through. If you, the Soldier, know the unit you want to move to, it is a good idea to put them in contact with their state’s IST Coordinator. If not, then you can talk to the IST Coordinator and let them know what you’re all about.
The form NGB 22-5 will need to be filled out and iPERMed. This form has the standard oath of enlistment, because you have to swear into your new state, with an addendum about fulfilling your prior contract even though you moved to another state. It will have your current data, the gaining unit’s information, and a portion where you sign, acknowledging that you understand you will report to your new unit within 60 days.
One thing to bear in mind is that you will need to clear your old unit, so you can’t just skip town and move without saying anything to your old unit. If you are moving before the IST can be completed, you need to ensure that you can coordinate a SUTA with the gaining unit, so you aren’t U coded for pay.
You can also request to be excused from IDT in order to look for a new unit, if you have to move quickly. However, if they deny it, you need to be prepared to attend training. I don’t know of any commanders that would deny this, though. Some states will not accept you if you have not completed IET, so be sure to research this beforehand.
One plus I found to doing an IST instead of sucking it up and driving down to CA, is I actually got in state tuition at OSU. This saved me thousands and thousands of dollars, for that I am more thankful than any bonus (not that I really got one of those).
Bottom line: ISTs are fairly common and easy to do, but you need to take initiative and spearhead your own career. Coordinate with your old unit and new unit, and help them do whatever it takes to make this process go faster for you.
Have you ever done an IST? What was your experience? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.