Finding the answers and guidance on how to ETS, or End of Term Service, is difficult…more so than one would expect. There isn’t much information on the net, and reading AR policy can be tedious, and what is out there is tends to be written by gung-ho re-up types. While reading this article, please understand that I have not ETS’d myself (obviously), and in the National Guard, this process may actually vary from state to state. Here is a short insight to how you will ETS from the National Guard.
180 DAYS OUT: While the Active component attends a mandatory ACAP briefing regarding civilian employment, this is often not utilized in the Guard. You may already have a civilian job. If not, you may want to start looking for one, especially if you were AGR and are not retiring. About 180 days out your unit should be tracking your ETS date and most likely than not, your Commander or Recruiting and Retention NCO will have a sit down with you to talk about extending. Depending on the current situation of your unit, you may just sign that you are not going to “re-up” or possibly extend. I know that our Brigade was offering bonus incentives this past ETS go-around as we just received notice that we were deploying to Afghanistan. So, begin to look to talk with someone about 180 days out (or about 6 drills away from ETS).
90 DAYS OUT: Some states may go ahead and draft your ETS orders at this point. Retirees should get their orders as soon as retirement request is approved. If not, inquire whether or not you will be receiving them and begin to make the necessary moves to ETS (as now you will be a lot closer to the date). Some of these things include scheduling your last military physical (trust me, you will want to get this done and on the record), any outstanding counselings, prepare the necessary paperwork (i.e. DD Form 2656 if you are retiring) and take a visit to your S1 or Readiness NCO to go over your paperwork to ensure that it is 100% accurate. For example, take a look at your DA 201 File, SGLI, verify your PEBD, BASD, ERB/ORB, DOR, etc. If these things are not corrected before your ETS…well, you may be SOL. Once you ensure they are accurate…PRINT AND MAINTAIN A COPY!!! Especially your medical and dental records!
30 DAYS OUT: Down to the wire now and you are anxious and a bit sad to be leaving. However, a few last items need to be addressed before you’re in the free and clear. First and foremost will be “clearing” your Unit. This means bringing in every single piece of gear and equipment that you have signed for and that is on your hand receipt. Can’t find it? Better bring your check book or visit an Army surplus store… This process (as long as your maintained your stuff) should be pretty smooth. Your second to last drill you will want to sit down with your Admin or Readiness NCO and ensure that any and all paperwork is good to go prior to you leaving. There may be some random forms floating around that they will need you to sign (again, depending on your Unit…) Once you are done with this drill then…. well, your done! Congratulations on a proud military career.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Again, folks, this is just a cursory overview of the process and roughly how it works. To ensure that you ETS smoothly, talk with the proper people (S1, Readiness NCO, R&R NCO, Medical, etc.) and establish a game plan. Even talking with Active Duty guys, not many people know exactly how the ETS process works, but there are ways to get through it. Understand the process and you will be good to go!
If you have any questions, feel free to just ask. We will do our best to answer them for you. Thanks.