Should I Reenlist in the Army National Guard?

Question: Should I Reenlist in the Army National Guard?

Answer: That is a personal decision.  There is no right or wrong answer.  Each person is different and has a complete different set of circumstances.   The best thing I can tell you is that YOU are the one who needs to make the decision about what to do.  After all, it is your career and no one else cares about your career as much as you do.  You can listen to others and get their input, but make sure you are the one to decide for yourself.

Let me share a few reasons you should consider reenlisting in the Army National Guard.

# 1 The Economy: With the state of our current economy, the job market is pretty bad.  If you’re having trouble finding a job, your ARNG income might come in handy.

# 2 Your Education: If you’re still working on your degree, you can utilize scholarships, grants and tuition assistance for Army National Guard Soldiers.  This can save you thousands of dollars.

# 3 An Extra Income: This goes hand in hand with # 1, but most people can use an extra few hundred bucks per month.  I believe the ARNG is the best part-time job out there.

# 4 Potential Job Opportunities: One great thing about serving in the ARNG is the job opportunities.  If you need full-time employment, you could apply for AGR, work on ADSW, or even volunteer for a deployment or school.

# 5 Build Up a Pension: If you haven’t saved much for retirement, you could continue your service to build up a pension.

# 6 Camaraderie: One of the things I really miss about the military is the camaraderie.  It might not be a big deal now, but you will miss it when you become a civilian.

Those are some of the most basic reasons to reenlist in the Army National Guard.  You should at least factor those things into your decision making process.

On the other hand, there are some potential drawbacks to reenlisting in the Army National Guard.

# 1 You Could Get Deployed: Of course, you could get deployed and be away from your family for a long time.

# 2 It Could Cause Family or Marriage Problems: If the military is creating problems in your marriage, or with your kids, you should consider leaving the military.  Family should always come first.

# 3 The Time Commitment is Too Much: If you have a successful career or own a business of your own, you might have a problem with the additional “unpaid” responsibilities required of Army National Guardsmen.

Once again, these are the potential drawbacks to reenlisting in the Army National Guard.

Here’s what I recommend you do.  Take out a sheet of paper and write down all the pros and cons to reenlisting as you see it.  Talk with your spouse and kids to get their input.  Talk with a trusted mentor and see what they have to say.  If you are 100% certain you DO NOT want to reenlist, then you should ETS.  If you are unsure, or somewhat unsure, you could either extend for one year or transfer to the IRR/ING Program until you make up your mind.  And of course, if you know you want to reenlist, go ahead and do it!

Whatever you do, take some time and put some thought into it!  The last thing you want to do is make a quick decision that you will later regret.

What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments or questions below.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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6 thoughts on “Should I Reenlist in the Army National Guard?”

  1. Many times I wish I had the opportunity to join the Guard after I got out of active duty. I received a medical discharge for herniated discs from active duty so I was ineligible to join the Guard. For others though, the Guard can be a great way to make some extra income and keep many benefits you had while active. As you pointed out, in today’s economy, every little bit helps.

    1. Part out the out-processing process from Active Duty is to learn about the ARNG and Army Reserves. In most cases during ACAP, there will be a guest speaker from each of these components (ARNG and USAR) to provide you an overview of the benefits of part-time service. As a result, many Soldiers continue their service after they leave Active Duty.

  2. As a first sergeant, the two most common reasons I’ve heard over the years from Soldiers who decide to ETS are family and employment. Sometimes it’s the spouse who has had enough, but most often the issue has been an employment conflict (especially for those who don’t work a Monday to Friday, 8 to 5 job, which is often the case with oilfield workers here in Louisiana). Another issue is losing Soldiers by interstate transfer because they have to go elsewhere for a job with decent pay. The Guard has recognized that fact, and providing employment for Soldiers who don’t have it (or better employment for those who do) has become a priority. We even have a full-time employment coordinator for the state whose function is to bring together employers who need good workers and Soldiers who need jobs.

    1. I agree, family and employment issues are two big reasons for Soldiers leaving the Army National Guard. Other factors often include ineffective leadership and frequent deployments. Some units have such horrible leadership that most of the Soldiers are unhappy and want to get out. Also, frequent deployments are another big reason, especially because it leads to family issues (like you mentioned). All I can say is that the National Guard isn’t for everyone. No matter what you do, some Soldiers will leave.

  3. Nice post, Chuck. I will definitely use some of these tips when counseling Soldiers on ETSing. It is always one of the most difficult things to do; convince your Soldiers to stay in. It is particularly difficult for us now because our unit will be deploying to Afghanistan. Again, great tips!

    1. Thanks for the comment Justin.

      As Army leaders, I view our job as “not convincing Soldiers to stay in the military,” but instead to help them decide what is best for them. We should walk them through the process mentioned in this article so they can make an informed decision. I hate seeing good Soldiers leave the Army, but I’ve always believed (as leaders) we should help do what is in the best interest of the Soldier involved, not just the best interest of the Army.

      Just my thoughts.


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