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Is Your Next Step Joining the Reserves? Get the Basics.


More than 1 in 4 active-duty service members tell us they intend to join the reserves. It can be a great option for a lot of service members.

Reserve duty can do more than fulfill your obligation. It’s also a good way to keep one foot in the military community and one foot in the civilian world. As a reservist, you can be connected to the benefits of military life and civilian life at the same time.

Reserve duty is also a viable path to the many benefits of retiring from the military. To retire, you’ll need to complete at least 20 years of active-duty years and reserve years.

Pay Raises

Military personnel receive pay raises that are linked to private-sector raises, as measured by the Employment Cost Index. These raises are for both reserve and active-duty service members.

Reserve Component benefits

Here’s a quick look at the benefits you’ll have by transitioning to the reserves:

  • Part-time pay: Pay is based on rank and service time. Bonuses are sometimes available for high-demand skills.
  • Skills training: Your active-duty skills will be put to good use in the National Guard or the reserves. Or maybe you’ll choose to retrain in a completely different field. The reserve component has different manpower needs, so you may have new career choices available.
  • Health Plan: TRICARE Reserve Select is available worldwide for qualified selected reserve members and their families when the military member is not on active-duty orders. Reserve members on active duty for more than 30 days receive comprehensive medical and dental care for free.
  • Education: If you’re in the selected reserve and have signed up for at least six years, you can access up to three years of educational assistance through the Montgomery GI Bill® for Selected Reserve, with a possibility of a “kicker” for certain high-demand fields.
  • Commissary and exchange privileges: Reserve members have access.
  • Retirement: Keep the retirement benefits earned on active duty, and continue to earn points toward a reserve retirement.

Other benefits of the reserve component? Flexibility. The reserves offer types of duty you wouldn’t have available in traditional active duty. And if you move, you may be able to change your unit affiliation.

Plus, yes, there’s that camaraderie that’s hard to find. If there are parts of military life you’d miss by separating completely, the reserves offer an excellent alternative.

Is the Reserve Component right for you? Find out.

  • Visit the retention counselor or transitional recruiter on your installation.
  • Be ready to talk about your career plans, educational goals and potential location.
  • If you visit within 180 days of your active-duty separation, your counselor can discuss specific billets.

Remember, if you haven’t met your military service obligation when you leave active duty, you’re required to enter the selected reserve or Individual Ready Reserve. In either case, you’re subject to recall to active duty.

Have a remaining obligation and haven’t joined the selected reserve? You’ll automatically be assigned to the Individual Ready Reserve. If the reserves are in your future, learn more before you make the transition.

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