Enlisting in the Reserves or National Guard

I'm a college junior who is about 2 years away from graduating. I was in ROTC but wasn't contracted due to budget issues. However, since I have my heart set on becoming an Army officer this isn't deterring me.

So I was thinking about joining the Reserves to gain more soldiering experience as well as some education benefits for grad school in the future. Where I was thinking about doing SMP with ROTC. A well as to get a start on serving my country and community.

I have a fairly good GPA and a decent PT score overall.

Now I have a few questions in regards to this?

1. Would it be even worth it for me to go enlisted? Or should I just hold my water and try OCS or ROTC later on?

2. What would the time commitment be like serving in the Reserves? Especially for someone going to school for an undergrad/graduate degree?

3. With the way the economy is, scaling back, and talk of more defense cuts would it be a good time to jump in? Could I be turned down if I'm otherwise qualified?

4. What are my odds of being deployed? Although, I'm more then willing to take the risk. I'm nervous about such a prospect interrupting my education, essentially since I haven't finished my undergrad.

I'd appreciate to hear any opinions and so forth
Original Post
1. Being an enlisted member first will definitely give you experience that will assist you should you decide to become an officer. You will gain knowledge and soldier skills you would not have otherwise.

2. For time commitments, you'd have to speak to a recruiter. Said recruiter would have most if not all the information you need to make an informed decision.

3. Simply because the economy is as it is, your thoughts should not be to "jump in." The military is not a fraternity or club that you can just get out of when you want. First and foremost, we defend the nation. We take oaths and we take that seriously. Granted, everyone has their reasons for joining the military (money for college, education, travel the world etc etc etc) You certainly can be turned down if the Army has met its quota for the fiscal year, but those change on a regular basis. Reserves and National Guard have their own quotas to meet, so again, best to see a recruiter.

4. Your odds of deploying depend on your MOS, what officer school you end up going into and the respective unit you'd be assigned to once you get into the Reserves. Granted, that could change due to the drawdown from Iraq and Afghan, but knowing us, we may be at war again soon.

I'm sure other members here may give their own opinions or even correct some of mine. Good luck in your decision and potential future Army career!!
1. If you haven't completed your Bachelors degree, going enlisted is your only option. I highly recommend enlisting first, then applying for a direct commission or the Green to Gold program to finish your undergrad degree. There are a lot of options and you can benefit the Army while it benefits you.

2. Time commitment if you enlist would be 6 yrs active reserve, 2 yrs inactive (if you do not ETS). I can't answer this one if you were an officer. I think there are other year options available though.

3. I recommend joining now, unless your priority is completing school first.

4. In my first 6 years in the Reserves, I was gone for 8 months for Basic/AIT, mobilized for 15 months, and then deployed for 16 months, all involuntarily. I know soldiers that have been in for 10-15yrs and never mobilized or deployed. Your odds are based on the needs of the Army, your rank, MOS, and unit.

Consider this. If you're enlisted and active duty, the Army Tuition Assistance will basically pay for the rest of your school up to a Masters Degree. If you're Reserve, you also have Reserve Tuition Assistance but if you're deployed or mobilized, you're on active duty and can use active TA. Got my BS degree with only minimal cost for books.

Another option is to finish your schooling and enlist or commission and have the Army pay off your student loans as a term of your contract. I know a soon to be soldier with $250k in dental school loans that won't be paying a dime for them and will be commissioning as a Captain after OCS/OBC with only a 6 yr Reserve committment.

Be sure you know what you want to do before you talk to a car salesman, I mean recruiter. Smiler

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