I get a lot of emails from people who visit my website.
Every once in a while, one of those emails really inspires me, or gets me thinking.
I received an email two days ago with this question in it: “Was it worth it being an Officer in the National Guard and would you do it again?“
For some strange reason this question really resonated with me.
Therefore, I’d like to do my best to answer it honestly and objectively.
These views are simply my opinion based upon my experience.
Let me preface by saying that overall, I really enjoyed my time in the National Guard.
I spent six years in the Army National Guard and was fortunate to get promoted twice (CPT, MAJ), spent two years in Command and participated in an overseas deployment.
I was fast tracking with my career.
And I had the opportunity to work with lots of exceptional citizen-soldiers.
Although many of my peers and superiors thought I was crazy to walk away with more than 15 years of service, I know that I made the right decision.
I had spent two year contemplating the decision and finally acted upon it when my time commitment expired.
There were several reasons that really influenced me to move on.
1. My heart was no longer in it.
I made a vow from day one that I would never stay in if my heart wasn’t in it.
The political correctness, the shift in Army Values, and the “welfare” mentality with many Soldiers (and units) got the best of me.
2. The time commitment (unpaid) outside of drill weekend (about 10-20 hours per month) negatively impacted my three businesses.
3. Watching standards get lowered to meet staffing requirements.
Even though I am still young, I have an “old school” mentality about Army Standards and training.
4. The MAJOR decision was that everyone in the same rank gets the same pay, regardless of performance or output.
There was little incentive to be a superstar, when a poor performing peer got the same pay, treatment, and entitlements.
I just couldn’t take the “mess up move up” mentality any more.
Please know that I’m not complaining.
These are simply the reasons I used to justify my decision to leave the National Guard.
Sure, I could have stayed in for five more years to qualify for a pension, but that would have completely KILLED my spirit.
To answer the first question “was it worth it?” I would answer a big YES that it was worth it.
The experience made me a better person, leader and American.
And it gave me a greater appreciation for my country and the freedoms that Americans have.
The experience also gave me focus, vision and discipline that I continue to use every day in my businesses.
I believe that if MORE Americans served their country, we would have fewer problems in our society.
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I also believe that for MOST people, joining the National Guard is a great option.
The fact that you can serve your state and country 20-years part-time and earn a pension is a good deal: if that is what you want.
My pension would have been about $1700 or $1800 per month in today’s dollars.
Of course, I wouldn’t get it until I was 60.
But I also know that the military isn’t for everyone.
If you have a big vision for your life, and know exactly what you want in life (most people don’t) I think it’s much wiser to pursue your purpose/vision than join the military.
However, if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, or you simply want to join the military; than joining the National Guard is a great idea.
It allows you to have a civilian career and military career.
It’s like the best of both worlds.
The second question is “would I do it again?”
My experience helped make me the man I am today.
I am grateful that I can look back and know that I was part of a time-honored tradition of men and women who were WILLING to put their life on the line for their country.
Few people can say that.
But I am glad that I left the military and moved on with my life.
I hope this post hasn’t offended you.
I truly hope that you spend time each week, month and year “reflecting” on your experiences and question why you do what you do in life.
It’s such as powerful way to grow as a person.
What about your experience?
Tell us why you are still in, or why you have left.
You can do so in the comment section below.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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2 thoughts on “Is a Part-Time Military Career Worth It?”
I was coming from active duty so I had the choice to make whether to continue, go guard/reserve or get out. I no longer had the active duty drive, but I still wanted to serve in some capacity. The reserve life was definitely a change in pace, but I've loved all my time in active and reserve service.
This is a very personal decision and a lot has to do with your priorities and responsibilities. If your spouse is opposed to it, is it really worth driving a wedge into your marriage?
All that being said I found the experience unbelievably rewarding and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Thank you for sharing why you chose to end your service with only 5 years left for retirements benefits. Sure, you could have stuck around the five years and it probably would have shown in your attitude. Thank you for the service to our country and also thank you for knowing when it was time to end it.