What Made You Join the Army National Guard?

what made you join the army national guardWhat made you join the Army National Guard?  That is the question I am asking my blog visitors to answer today.  We all join the military for different reasons. I would love to hear what factors enticed you to sign your name to the dotted line and join the Army National Guard. All you have to do is leave a comment to this post to share your thoughts.

To get the conversation flowing, I will share my story about why I joined the Army National Guard. Here it goes.

In May 2005, I was living in Joppa, Maryland. I had just started selling life insurance and was starting to miss the camaraderie of the military. Approximately two years prior, I had resigned my commission from the Active Duty Army in an attempt to save my marriage.

I had pondered the decision of coming back in for a few weeks before I contacted the local recruiter. After talking to one of the local ARNG Recruiters, she put me in touch with the Officer Recruiter for the Maryland Army National Guard. I went in for an interview, took a physical, filled out all the paper work and was back in the military within about two weeks.

Looking back, here are the primary reasons I joined the Army National Guard:

1. To belong to something bigger than myself. I have always enjoyed being part of a team working toward a cause my greater than myself.

2. To earn some extra money. I had recently went through a divorce and was short on cash.

3. To serve my state and country. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always enjoyed service. I like to give back to my country and state.

4. To earn a pension. At that moment in time I was at about the 8-9 year mark. I knew that if I got joined the military again I could one day earn a pension.

5. To face new challenges and experiences. I love challenges. I love doing new things and going new places. At that moment in time my life was boring. I was ready for something new; something exciting.

There it is in a nutshell. This is what made me join the Army National Guard in 2005.

I’d love to hear your story. What made you join the Army National Guard? Just post your story below, I look forward to hearing it. Thank you.

20 thoughts on “What Made You Join the Army National Guard?”

  1. There is an Army National Guard recruitment office about two miles up the road from my home, and I pass at least twice a day. Many times recently, I have seen what appear to be new recruits running around the parking lot and up and down the nearby roads with large backpacks strapped on. (I often want to stop and than them, but am not sure how well received that would be.) I believe that the new signs outside of the recruitment office say it all: the signs say “5 Reasons to Join the Army National Guard”, and #1 is “Earn a Paycheck”. I am not saying that is why all new recruits join, but there must be a reason that is listed as number one. It is a sign of the times.

  2. Candace Ginestar

    After my second year at OSU, I found myself in the ARNG recruiters office closest to my house. I had sent an RFI to the ARNG and ANG, and told myself I would commit to whoever contacted me first. The ARNG contacted me first thing the next morning. The other, weeks later. That may have been kind of stupid, but I’ve always known that things work out for me for the best, so I just go with it. For me, the most important part was serving while I was in college, so I didn’t have to drop out (I had planned on transferring to active duty afterward, but 10 years later here I am). It’s been a huge blessing and I am honored to be a Soldier, and a leader of Soldiers.

  3. This is a good list of reasons to join the National Guard. Are there any other reasons that are less apparent? I would be interested to know what peoples’ opinions are after joining the National Guard. Was it what you expected it to be? Any surprises? What has been the best part of your career in the National Guard and what would you say to someone considering signing up?

    1. I think the article covers most of the reasons to join the Army National Guard. Any other reasons would probably be personal in nature. Thanks for the comment.


  4. Katelyn Hensel

    I have a very close friend who just recently joined the Army National Guard to the complete shock of those closest to her. When confronted about her decision, she was at first rather quiet, but as we got her talking she opened up like a book.

    One of the main reasons is that she wanted the challenges and experiences you mention in #5. She had hit a kind of rut in her life. She had earned an Associate’s degree, but didn’t know if more formal education was something she was interested in. She wanted to be challenged, but couldn’t find anything that was quite at her level in our small town.

    I am so very proud of her now. Two years later she has really come into her own and accepted the National Guard lifestyle with strength and passion. She is now challenged every day of her life and I have never seen her happier.

    1. Nice comment, Katelyn.

      Everyone needs a good challenge in life. I think so anyway. For most people who don’t want to be a full-time Soldier, the Army National Guard or Army Reserves gives you the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. I’m glad your friend has come full circle and enjoyed her experience as a citizen soldier.

      Thanks for the comment.


  5. I am currently an officer in the National Guard and prior service in the reserve component. I have seen a lot of differences between the two services and I can say I really like being in the National Guard, even though the state I live in is broke. We are more proactive when it comes to training and I have more options to choose the branch I want, including combat arms. I have always wanted to become an Armor officer, and the National Guard helps me fulfill it while allowing me to stay in California.

  6. While I don’t have any experience with the National Guard, I can give you my reasons for joining the Army. I had just graduated college and found that I would need experience in my field to obtain the type of job I wanted. The army offered both that experience as well as a program to further my education. I had also always wanted to travel. Again the Army offered me this. Add to this the benefits I would be afforded (healthcare, good pay, etc.) that I would not find elsewhere straight from college, and the decision was easy.

    1. Job experience is huge, especially for new college grads. Most new college grads struggle to get a decent job right after college graduation. What’s so enticing about the Army or Army National Guard is that you can join under the loan repayment program. Plus you can work on your Master’s or Advanced Degree while you get some job experience. I think it’s a really good option for lots of people.

  7. I’m thinking about joining the National Guard for similar reasons to the ones you list above. I love being part of something larger, and being of service to my state and country. The practical side of things is also a factor – the ability to earn some extra money, and also to take advantage of the educational opportunities.

    1. Good for you, Andrew.

      As you can see, there are many good reasons to join the Army National Guard. I do believe it is the best part-time job you can have. The pay is great, you can get low cost health care, and ample education opportunities. There’s no reason anyone couldn’t join the ARNG, even for one four year enlistment, and complete a college degree, learn a new skill and get some experience.

  8. Just as Chuck mentioned, being part of something bigger than myself is important to me. I think everyone has an obligation to give something back to their society, and military service is my way. I also love what I do. In some ways it was a substitute for the course of my life not allowing me a chance to serve on active duty. Then 9/11 came and a few short years later we found ourselves on a year and a half of active duty, two-thirds of that spent in a combat zone. Difficult though it was from a family perspective, I’m glad I had the opportunity (and then another one a few years later) to deploy. It’s something I never thought I would have the chance to do when I joined the Guard.

    1. I agree with you that everyone has an obligation to give back to society. Unfortunately, most people don’t think that way. Instead, they thing society owes them everything.

      Just my two cents.


  9. While I have not completed my enlistment, I am getting much closer. I started a letter in hopes of fielding many repeat questions from my family and friends:

    Why I chose the National Guard
    I understand that by me choosing this direction in my life, you may be shocked, concerned, and unsure of my motives. I wanted to take a few moments to outline the key reasons behind my decision.

    1. First, and foremost, I want to serve my country. America is the greatest nation in the world and it takes an active military to protect our freedoms. The Guard is 383 years old and has a rich history of providing units trained and equipped to protect life and property to the states, while providing units trained, equipped and ready to defend the United States and its interests, all over the globe. While my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) may not directly be related to combat, each job must be done to ensure the effective and efficient completion of our mission objectives. However, should the need arise, you should understand that there will be no hesitation on my part to raise arms and run headfirst into the battle. I will do whatever is necessary in order to honor the sacrifices of those before us, protect the lives and freedoms we enjoy now, and preserve the safety and futures of generations to come.

    2. The Army has 7 core values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. I believe that I possess all of these, and try to live them out in my daily life. However, I know that I am not as strong as I could be in each of these values. I owe it to myself, my family, my friends, and everyone else I come in contact with, to ensure that these values are as “sharp” as possible.

    3. The military, much like the fire service, has always been known for creating and fostering a strong camaraderie between its members. You start with a group of people you have never met before and are thrown into hell with them. Together you will laugh, cry, fail, succeed, learn, and grow. You will share a bond that few other people will ever be able to understand. You will become brothers and sisters in arms. You will become a team.

    4. There are very few things guaranteed in this life. I will never be content with my life so long as I have the opportunity to change things for the better. I will not settle for “good enough”. I will continue to push myself harder, and strive to be the absolute best son, husband, friend, father and citizen that I can be.

    5. While being a soldier comes first, I cannot ignore the immense career and educational opportunities the Guard offers. I have always been a curious person, and earnestly want to learn as much as I can. The National Guard provides me with the chance to delve into an entirely new career field which would open countless new doors for my future. However, I could also choose to follow my current career path as a firefighter which could potentially propel me significantly in the fire service. The Guard also provides educational assistance in the following forms:
    A. Montgomery GI Bill: $356/ month for books and supplies
    B. Federal Tuition Assistance: Up to 100% of college tuition
    C. Post 9/11 GI Bill: Up to 100% of college tuition. Transferrable to children.
    D. Army National Guard Kicker Bill: $350/month for living expenses
    E. Specialized Training Assistance Program (STRAP): $2122 monthly stipend for medical training in certain specialties

    6. By becoming a soldier in the National Guard, I will be able to provide a future for my children. I will not only gain the necessary training and skills to secure a well-paying civilian job, but I will also be a strong role model. By living the Army Values, I will be able to show my children an honorable way of living their lives. While this is not necessary to raise children, I believe it gives both my wife and I an advantage in the sometimes difficult task of raising children to be honest, hardworking citizens.

    1. Luke,

      Thanks for sharing your story about why you joined the National Guard. I wish you all the best and hope your experience is fun, rewarding and challenging.

      All the best to you and your family.

      Chuck Holmes

  10. While I am not in the Army National Guard, my husband is, so I will speak on his behalf (which I often do anyways :-) The Army National Guard gives you a sense of belonging. You are part of something that’s helping a greater cause. I know he also likes the fact that he’s constantly learning something new. There are also financial rewards for joining as well.

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