When Your Guard or Reserve Service Member is Called to Active Duty

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Your spouse or partner is preparing for deployment and transitioning from reserve status to active duty. Take advantage of several deployment support programs. They can help you with everything from mobilization to your service member’s reintegration. The following support services are available to assist you during this deployment:

  • Command communications
  • Military and Family Support Center
  • Yellow Ribbon events and family readiness activities
  • Military OneSource
  • Family Assistance Centers
  • Your unit’s family support staff and volunteer network

Command communications

Your command leadership will provide information to you as efficiently as possible through a unit website, email, a toll-free number and or automated multimedia communication systems.

Military family support websites

The Department of Defense and each branch of the military provides online information for military families, including those in the National Guard and reserves. These websites will tell you about:

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

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Yellow Ribbon events and family readiness activities

Military commands typically host Yellow Ribbon events to help families prepare for and stay strong during and after a deployment. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program can:

  • Prepare service members and families for deployment
  • Sustain them during deployment
  • Provide information and support for reintegration

At pre-deployment events, you and your service member will learn about benefits and support, such as:

  • Military pay
  • Financial readiness
  • Family care plans
  • Family support through the military

Events during deployment provide information and outreach to family members to help with the impact of separation and connect you with other families going through the deployment. Family and deployment readiness means knowing and using the resources available to you. During a deployment, you may:

  • Have financial or legal questions
  • Need support for your children
  • Have concerns about your emotional well-being
  • Want to connect with other military families

After service members return home, Yellow Ribbon activities help families reconnect and readjust. Participate in these activities and get information on:

  • Communication challenges
  • Relationship stress
  • Combat stress
  • Department of Veterans Affairs benefits
  • Employment

Ask questions and receive information answers from briefings and group discussions. You’ll also meet unit leaders, family support professionals and volunteers who will be important resources during the deployment. Check out Yellow Ribbon events online and Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.

Family Assistance Centers

Family Assistance Centers are located in every state to serve geographically dispersed military families. They provide information, outreach and referrals to services in your community and serve all active and reserves service members and families.

Installation family support programs

Immediate family members of active duty National Guard or reserve members are entitled to use services at military installations. These resources offer a variety of professional support services, and information and referrals to community resources. The centers include:

  • Marine Corps Community Services
  • Fleet and Family Support Centers
  • Airman and Family Readiness Centers

Use MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to find contact information.

Unit family support staff and volunteer network

National Guard and reserve commands have organized family support systems of staff and volunteers, such as:

  • Family assistance coordinators
  • Family readiness assistants
  • Family readiness officers
  • Other designated family support specialists

It’s easier to ask for help when you need it if you get to know key staff and volunteers before your service member deploys.

Support for children

There are many forms of support available to National Guard and reserve parents, children and caregivers, including:

Use these programs and resources to help your children cope with the emotions that can come with having a deployed parent.

Seek community support

Look for support outside the military community — neighbors, coworkers, school personnel or leaders in your religious organization about any support services they offer or recommend.

Take care of yourself

Don’t forget to take care of yourself during your loved one’s deployment. Remember that family separations and deployment can be an opportunity to nurture your own physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Plan for your deployment

Manage the deployment process by knowing as much as you can about your benefits and support resources available. Be proactive about getting support at home before, during and after your partner’s deployment to ensure a positive experience.

Joining the Military as a Reservist: Eligibility, Obligation and Benefits

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Joining the Reserve Component of the military is a great way to serve your country. You will also earn valuable benefits without giving up your civilian employment or schooling.

New to the Military

Military OneSource has the information, tools and resources you’ll need to transition smoothly and quickly to military life.

Many people transfer to the reserves from the Active Component. But you can join the National Guard or military reserves without prior military experience. There are small differences among the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve. But most have the same requirements, obligations and federal benefits. National Guard members who perform state active duty are eligible for state benefits.

Am I eligible to join the National Guard or military reserves?

You must meet these minimum requirements to join the National Guard or military reserves:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 42 (general requirement range; age varies by branch).
  • Pass an armed forces physical exam.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.
  • Meet the minimum ASVAB eligibility standard. You must receive a sufficient score on the ASVAB composite called the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

Each branch or specific job may have other requirements in addition to those listed above.

How do I join the National Guard or military reserves?

The first step is to contact a recruiter. Your recruiter will explain the process and available opportunities. Speaking with recruiters from different branches can help you get an idea of which branch you would like to join. You can also find out more information at the recruiting websites for each branch:

The process could go quickly or slowly, depending on different factors. Sometimes you can get through the requirements very quickly. It can also take weeks or months from when you first contact a recruiter to when you leave for your military training.

What’s my obligation if I join the National Guard or military reserves?

Joining the military reserves or National Guard is a significant time commitment. This is true especially at the beginning. You will get settled in your permanent unit. Then, you can expect to attend unit assembly, known as “drill,” one weekend per month. You will also participate in a two-week annual training each year.

  • Initial training: As a new military member, you will attend your branch’s basic military training. That may last from eight to 12 weeks. Depending on your job, you may also attend an advanced training course.
  • Monthly drill: You’ll need to drill for 48 periods or units per year. Most units drill one weekend per month. A typical weekend drill has four periods. Some military units have additional drilling requirements, which may include the weekday.
  • Annual training: You’ll also need to participate in annual training for two weeks per year.
  • Activations: You may be activated to full-time service in a voluntary or involuntary status. This can be with your unit or individually. These activations may vary in length and location. They may include 30 days in a unit near your hometown. Or up to a year supporting a mission outside of the United States. Generally, you cannot opt out of involuntary action. This is because the military has ordered you to active service.
  • Length of commitment: Your total contract may range from three to eight years. This depends on the branch of service and your specific occupation/job.

What kind of benefits will I earn?

For your commitment to the National Guard or military reserves, you’ll receive many benefits including:

  • Part-time pay: Reserve Component pay is based on rank and service time. Bonuses are sometimes available for high-demand and low-density skills. Your pay will be based upon the Active Duty Pay Table during full-time and annual training, and active duty. You will receive prorated payment while on partial month duty. This will be calculated using the daily rate. Learn more about Basic Pay, the fundamental component of military pay.
  • Skills training: You’ll be trained for your Reserve Component job. The selection of jobs available will depend on the needs of the military and your ASVAB scores.
  • Health care coverage: TRICARE Reserve Select is subsidized, fee-based health care coverage. It is for reservists and their families when the military member is not on active-duty orders. Reservists on active duty for more than 30 days receive comprehensive medical and dental care at no cost. While their service member is activated for more than 30 days, family members receive health care coverage.
  • Education: Selected Reserve or National Guard members who have signed up for at least six years, can access up to three years of educational assistance. This benefit is available through the Montgomery GI Bill® for Selected Reserve. Additional funding may be available for certain high-demand fields. Reservists may also earn Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, which may be transferred to eligible dependents when certain eligibility criteria are met.
  • Commissary and exchange privileges: Reserve Component members and their eligible dependents have full-time access to on-base shopping. This includes the discounted food and department stores.
  • Retirement: Service in the Reserve Component earns points toward a reserve retirement.

Joining the National Guard or military reserves can be a great way to serve your country without leaving your full-time job. Once you decide to join, you can learn more about your new community. See Military OneSource’s New to the Military resources. Military OneSource can answer your questions about military life. Call 800-342-9647 or connect via Live Chat 24/7/365. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

How COVID-19 Changes Affect Training, Duty, Pay and Benefits

Military woman sitting at desk using laptop

Current as of April 29, 2020

Coronavirus disease 2019 continues to bring travel restrictions and social distancing requirements to protect service members and their families from the virus, which creates new challenges to supporting missions.

The Department of Defense developed a risk-based flexible plan to guide leaders on how to protect the health and ensure the safety of service members and their families while continuing to support critical missions.

The following questions and answers are designed to provide leaders, commanders and service providers with information to help guide service members and their families in dealing with the changes resulting from COVID-19 in areas such as travel, duty, pay and benefits, and where to find the information they need to support the safety and continued readiness of the force.

What can commanders do to ensure the safety of their service members during COVID-19 pandemic? add

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Reserve Component-specifics:

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Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

National Guard Resources

Discover how coronavirus disease 2019 restrictions affect the training, duty, pay and benefits of service members and what commanders and service providers can do to help.