National Guard Deployments

National Guard deployments have increased drastically since the Global War on Terrorism began in 2001. Prior to those horrific acts of terrorism, National Guard and Army Reserve deployments were less common.  In fact, before the 2001 attacks, the National Guard typically served as a Reserve Force, whereas it now serves as an operational force.


If you currently serve in the National Guard, you should be prepared to deploy at some point in time. In fact, a huge majority of National Guard Officers have already deployed at least once. And, many Officers and Soldiers have two, three or even more deployments.

national guard deployments

National Guard Deployments present many great opportunities for National Guard personnel. First of all, you get to serve your country and state. That is a great honor within itself.  Next, you get real world experience in your military occupation.  Normally, National Guard Officers only train one weekend a month.  However, during your deployment you will get to perform your military duties day in and day out.

The length of time for deployments will vary, depending on the situation. State active duty missions usually run from 15-60 days, while federal deployments are usually a minimum of 12 months. Guard Soldiers may also choose to volunteer for active duty assignments (for example, Border Patrol), and again, the length of deployment will vary. ~ Army National Guard

This increases your technical and tactical expertise.  This experience will make you a better leader and can also increase your marketability within the private sector too.  The experiences you get in combat will help “launch” you over your peers who have not deployed.  One year on a deployment is probably the equivalent of five to seven years of “standard” National Guard time, doing drill one weekend a month and two weeks per year. So, if you have a deployment under your belt, you will probably have more “subject matter expertise” than your peer who has not deployed.

Another great thing about National Guard deployments is the opportunity to finish your civilian education. If you need to finish a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, you can do it overseas. Most installations have education offices and several colleges to choose from. You can also take online classes.  Also, you can use your Federal Tuition Assistance and GI Bill.  These options let you earn your education with little or no out of pocket money.

Furthermore, deployments allow most National Guard Officers to save money and pay off debt. Many National Guard Officers and NCOs earn more while deployed than they do back home with their civilian job. The deployment allows them to pay off debt, save money and plan for retirement.  Your keys to success are to develop a financial game-plan, set up automatic payments, and stay disciplined.  You also want to make sure that you and your spouse are on the same sheet of paper.

Another great benefit of National Guard deployments is the opportunity to travel.  Depending on which country you deploy to, you might get the opportunity to visit several different countries.  For instance, when I deployed to Kosovo, I visited Macedonia, Hungary and Bulgaria.  If it wasn’t for the deployment, there’s a good chance I never would have visited any of these countries.

National Guard, or a Reserve service member, and can either volunteer for IA service or be selected for it. usually IAs are Navy and Air Force service members that augment an Army or Marine Corps unit. Deploying IA Sailors and Airmen usually require additional training and can be ordered to tours longer in length than a traditional deployment. ~

National Guard Deployments

There are many other advantages to National Guard deployments. What I enjoyed most about my deployment to Kosovo was the opportunity to serve my country overseas and the chance to improve my leadership and tactical skills.  It was also enjoyable being in an “Active Duty” environment for a year.  I paid off all my debt and saved a considerable amount of money.  And being apart from my fiancee (now wife) really “improved” our relationship.  It taught us how much we really appreciated each other.

In conclusion, if you participate in a National Guard deployment, look for the positive in the situation. Find ways to take your experience and make yourself a better person, leader and Officer.  Never come back from a deployment in a worse situation than you were when you left.  Do something to improve your educate, your relationship, your finances, and yourself.

Do you have any added tips? Maybe you have questions about deployment? Just post them below, and we will answer them soon.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
  1. Army Family Readiness Group: Resources, Regulations, & FRG Leader Info
  2. Deployment Survival Tips for Military Spouses & Dependents
  3. Military Pre-Deployment Checklist for Service Members & Families
  4. Managing Your Military Money
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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12 thoughts on “National Guard Deployments”

  1. I woke up one day 14 years ago, turned on the television and saw airplanes flying into the very symbols of our land. This made me want to serve. I see these journalists and aid workers who just show up wanting to tell stories or feed the needy – then these ridiculous people cut off their heads and make gory videos. Really? A puny little reporter or some young girl? The people who do this crap deserve our full retribution. Just my opinion.

  2. It is truly nice to read a post about all of the up sides to deployment in the National Guard. Military service contracts state that deployment should be expected, even for the Guard, yet many are surprised by it. They dread it, too, and I don’t really blame them, but a lot of it is because of all of the negative stories floating around. It is good of you to post the positives: the leadership development opportunities, the money, and the skills training. If you must deploy, take advantage of the opportunities for self-development.

  3. Every recruit who joins the National Guard should always be prepared for deployment. It is part of the contract. I must agree with you on the part about looking at the positives. All throughout life, no matter where we are, there are positives and negatives; if we focus on the positives, life will be much more enjoyable and easier to manage. Great post sir.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      I agree that everyone should be prepared, especially those who joined after 9/11. Does anybody join anymore legitimately not expecting to deploy? That would baffle me. I would think that everyone expects to go overseas for the time being.

  4. I am an 11A currently serving with a LRS unit. I have been with this unit for 2 years and we do not have any deployment opportunites in sight. I would really like to get a tour over in Afghanistan before the war comes to a close. Do you know of any opportunities or units deploying that are undermanned or need additional support? Thanks

  5. Katelyn Hensel

    I have a huge military family and though of course we were all rocked by the attacks on 9/11, it seems to have affected the military lifestyle drastically. Several members of my family are or were members of the National Guard and I’m actually pretty sure they never thought they would be deployed. Three deployments later for my cousin Benji and I don’t think his life would be the same without it. He’s become a true leader and though we have missed him during the deployments, he always seems to have grown in some amazing way once he is able to get back home

    1. National Guard deployments have been going strong for nearly 12 years now. I don’t see them slowing down too much now. I’ve deployed myself, a couple times now, and I have to agree with you that deploying can have a really positive impact on your personal life. I became a better leader and learned to really, really love my country, during my deployments.

    2. Candace Ginestar

      My honey is the same boat as your cousin. He started the enlistment process before 9/11, and after all his medical stuff went through, he was finally in…and ready to roll. He’s deployed several times, and it has shaped him as a leader, without a doubt. I know my deployment changed me for the better.

  6. Thinking about deployment is hard for so many military families. This post is good about highlighting the upside of deployment, such as saving money to help you plan for retirement and pay off debt. The opportunity to travel is another benefit of deployment. Of course, we hope for the safety of all our men and women of service during their deployment and know the dangers are real, but there are some excellent benefits as well.

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