Benefits and Services for National Guard and Reserves

Both National guard and reserves are eligible for VA benefits or services under the guidelines provided.  Military One Source provides a broad overview of VA benefits and services to National Guard and Reserve members.

Make the Connection, through the VA, provides a wealth of online resources for National Guard and Reserves.

Recommended resources also include your local National Guard or Reserve Units or one of the following

As you review these occupations keep in mind that the career options may not have a direct link to a civilian occupation.  Therefore, in selecting the occupation in the National Guard select an occupation that you want, but decide whether or not you want an occupation that carries over to the civilian job market.

In some cases the occupations in the guard while not having a direct fit into civilian employment additional civilian education related to the occupation may assist you in moving into the civilian employment scene.

If you are in the National Guard or Reserves one thing you must consider is your employment and your employer.  While in the Guard or Reserves there may be times when you have to be away from your job to report to your duty station or regional office to get information - this could take you away from your job, schooling, training program, or family.  Although there are labor laws to prevent an employer from eliminating you from your job there are times when the employer just cannot let you go.  Your commitment is to the service and must be kept.  On the other hand the employer could do something with your work schedule to either make you decide to no longer work and seek other employment.

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National Guard and Reserves

Making the selection of National Guard or Reserves requires some forethought in order to plan your life whether you are employed or going to school. 

The Guard and Reserves has a website to provide employer support information just click on  Employer Support Program.  Your computer browser may initially block you, but it is ensuring you want to leave the site you are on and go to a Joint Services website.  The is requires a certificate which you will be asked to obtain then move to the website.

Careers within the National Guard

There are approximately 130 occupations within the National Guard.  These occupations are divided among 16 clusters or groupings.  To learn more of each cluster and many of the occupations check out  Careers in the National Guard.


An article published in the online CHRON (2018) by Jeffrey Joyner provided a brief, but descriptive overview of our country's military landscape.  In broad strokes Joyner reviewed the five branches of our armed forces, specifically the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. With "the U.S. Coast Guard is under the control of the Department of Homeland Security, while the other four branches report to the Department of Defense."  The personnel strength was placed close to 1.3 million.  The key point of the article was the 80,000 personnel in the National Guard and reserves.

The following in italics is from the Joyner article.

The Reserves

Reservists are military personnel who serve on a part-time basis. All five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces have reserve components
[Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard].  Reservists normally work alongside their active-duty counterparts when fulfilling their service commitment of one weekend per month and two weeks per year, usually during the summer. You can join the reserves without prior military experience and without ever serving on active-duty status, or you can transition to the reserves after serving in the military.

The National Guard

Only the Army and the Air Force have guard components, the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. Like reservists, guard personnel commit to serving one weekend each month and two weeks each year. Guard members may train alongside active-duty personnel, particularly during their two-week exercises, or they may spend a drill weekend training as a separate unit.

Similarities in Service

In addition to having the same drill requirements, members of both guard components and all five reserve components have other similarities. All wear the uniform of their respective service. All members of the same rank and years of service receive the same pay, which is based on active-duty pay prorated to reflect their part-time service. Both the guard and reserve members can be activated or mobilized to support federal military actions abroad. Members typically report to locations near their homes, allowing them to commute to drills rather than move. New recruits without prior military experience must attend basic military training, regardless of whether they are joining the reserves or the guard.

Command Differences

The primary difference between the guard and reserve components lies in the command. Reserve units are part of the federal armed forces, and as such they are under presidential command. Guard units are organized on the state level, and the governor can call them to service in response to civil riots or natural disasters. The president has the power to federalize guard troops, if needed, but a governor has no control over reserve units. The only other notable difference is in the benefits. Although members of both the guard and reserve receive the same federal benefits, individual states can offer additional benefits for members of its guard. For example, Oklahoma and Alabama pay the full tuition for its Air National Guard members who attend a state university or college. Alabama exempts only the military retirement benefits from state income tax, while Oklahoma exempts 100 percent of active military pay from state taxation.

As a member of the Guard or Reserve you should always keep your employer or instructors in school of your duty requirements and when you may be away or activated for a period of time. Check out Tips for the Guarda useful two page document on how-to inform employers and educators of your Guard or Reserve obligations.  Another resource is Chad Storlie from USAA who provides some excellent advice on Managing Your Careers - Guard or Reserve and Civilian.

For additional information on the complete civilian skills set go to CareerOneStop: Veteran and Military Transitionan online site to investigate occupations and skill requirements.