What are the benefits of staying in the Army Reserves or National Guard past 20 years? That’s a question that one of my website visitors recently asked me. I figured I’d do my best to answer it, so you can decide what is right for you. Listed below you will see my top six reasons to stay in the ARNG or USAR past the 20 year mark.
- Promotion Opportunities: Many Soldiers have big career goals that will take more than 20 years to accomplish. If you have big aspirations, such as reaching the rank of General Officer or Command Sergeant’s Major, it will more than likely take you more than 20 years to accomplish those goals. If you still love what you do, and are still progressing forward with your career, and still have more goals to accomplish, I am all about staying in past 20 years.
- Increased Pension: As you go past your 20 year mark in the Army, you can increase the amount of your pension by doing additional years and getting promoted. In many cases, the pension increase WILL NOT BE significant, unless you are AGR or have lots of Active Duty time. I highly suggest you check out some of the retirement calculators and experiment with different ranks, points and years of service to see how much your pension would increase with different variables. For most of the traditional M-Day/TPU Soldiers, doing an extra 3-4 years of service will probably help you earn an extra $75 to $150 per month with your military pension.
- Continued Health Care Coverage: In today’s economy, it can be tough to get affordable, quality health insurance. If your employer does not offer health insurance, you could consider staying in to keep using Tri-Care. Tri-Care is relatively cheap and pretty good quality; and it’s a lot better than not having insurance at all.
- Job Aspirations: Similar to # 1, if you have jobs that you still want to do, I’d say stay in past 20 years. For instance, if you want to retire as a Battalion Commander and you just made Lieutenant Colonel, I’d say do another three to four years so you can reach your job goal.
- Supplemental Income: In today’s economy it can be tough to find a good paying job. For most Soldiers with 20 years of service, they will make somewhere between $700 and $1300 for a drill weekend. That is good money for two day’s work and can have a huge impact in your family’s personal finances. If you NEED the money to survive, keep serving.
- Sense of Patriotism and Belonging: When you wear your uniform, you feel patriotic and a sense of belonging. I know I always did when I put on my uniform. If you still love serving, stick it out and continue your service. It’s nice to be part of something bigger than yourself. Don’t get out until they make you get out.
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of staying in past 20 years, I’d also like to cover the drawbacks of staying in past 20 years.
- More Time Away From Family: After 20 years of military service, it’s probably time to stop being selfish and devote more time to your family. That extra weekend a month could be spent with your spouse and kids. Also, if you stay in there’s a good chance you could get deployed again, which would take you away from your family for 12 months or more.
- Interfering with Civilian Career: Most people retire from the military in their late 30s or early 40s. This is when you start to hit the peak earning years in your civilian career (40s and 50s). At this point it might be a good idea to focus your efforts on your civilian career, not dividing them between the military and a civilian career. Focusing on just one thing could really pay off in terms of advancements, promotions and pay increases.
- Small Pension Increase: If you are a traditional one weekend a month Soldier, your pension won’t increase by much for doing an extra 2-3 years. Don’t believe me? Just visit the retirement calculator and see for yourself. Unless you are deployed or are AGR, and extra 100 or 200 retirement points (accumulated over a 2-3 year period of time) are pretty INSIGNIFICANT.
Staying in past 20 years is a personal decision. For most people, it is probably not the best use of your time, especially if you are tired, burn out, or have already accomplished what you set out to do. But if you are a high achiever who still loves serving and still has lots of things you want to accomplish in the military, I’d tell you to stay in until they force you to retire.
What are your thoughts about staying in the Army Reserves or Army National Guard past 20 years? Leave a comment and let us know!