Posted on Jul 23, 2016
PO2 Field Medical Technician
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In order to fulfill my 8 year obligation, I will remain in the IRR for three years. I was thinking about becoming FTS or just a drilling reservist during the IRR period. Are the Reserves worth it? I plan on going to school full time and then medical school. I still have a desire to serve, despite being screwed over many times. But I'm just not sure if it's worth it. I still have slightly less than a year as AD.
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Edited 3 y ago
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SGM Mikel Dawson
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Edited 3 y ago
My career was Reserve. It was worth it. A few things to understand.
Commitment: Many things missed because people wanted me to "skip" a weekend drill to attend, but I didn't. Yes I missed out on a few things.
Experience: You get out of it what you put in. Also you are dedicated you will get so many more experiences , chances to do things, go places and help people.
Retirement: Yea there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don't throw away what you have already invested. I was really surprised how much I receive every month from a part time job.

It was worth it to me.
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SMSgt Retiree
SMSgt (Join to see)
3 y
I totally agree with SGM Dawson's points. I never would have dreamed that I would retire from the Air National Guard, when I first enlisted. Twenty-three years later, I was standing in front of the entire Group at my retirement ceremony. I know fellow patriots in the guard who were going to school full time while serving as part-time warrior. Don't get me wrong, you will be called to serve at times, and sometimes at the most inopportune times, but the journey is phenomenal! Depending on your MOS (AFSC), whether you're Guard or Reserve, and the state in which you serve, you may even qualify for free college tuition, and "kicker" funds which MATCH your GI Bill benefit. I would suggest that You research the features advantages and benefits associated with Guard vs. Reserve or even which branch you go in. There were many folks in the Air National Guard with diverse military backgrounds from virtually every branch of service -- Good Luck!
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PO2 Field Medical Technician
PO2 (Join to see)
3 y
Very true. Thanks for your responses. Five years is a long time to be invested and as you said, it shouldn't be thrown away. At this point in my career, I just feel like I'm not ready to completely get out.
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CW3 Kim B.
CW3 Kim B.
3 y
I was Army AD, ARNG, and USAR. I retired with 28+ yrs. I agree with the SGM that you will get out of it what you put into it. There are good units, cdr's, and jobs as well as bad just like everything else in life.
Some drill weekends are hard work, interesting, fun, annoying, boring and bad. Benefits for school are still available and you also get 4 days pay for Sat and Sun. You get 1 day's pay for each unit training assembly (there are 4 of these in a normal weekend). Just remember that the Reserves in any branch have real world missions and do real work so don't think it will be all "sham" time.
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LT Ipt Voice Project Manager
LT (Join to see)
3 y
SGM Mikel Dawson hit the nail on the head. You will miss family activities, it requires a commitment, you definitely get out of it what you put into it (volunteer for stuff!), and yes, retirement awaits you. That being said, I would respectfully add to his comment that if you are doing it for the weekend drill pay (especially as an E-5) you are doing it for the wrong reasons. The pay is nice but there must be something more that makes you get up early on a weekend or leave on a Friday night and leave your home and family while giving up your only two days off during the week. Do it because it is worth doing, do it because of the great group of people you get to be with on those two days, do it because if you don't do it who will?

I have about 30 years of service at this point, 8 active and 22 reserve with 24 of those as an enlisted man. There have been great times and there have been times when it has sucked majorly. There are times when I feel like a dinosaur but I keep going because no matter how bad it gets, I love it and I love the opportunity to be with the best group of people I have ever met.

TL:DR It's worth it
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CAPT Project Manager
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Don't rush into it. Take some time to decide, and analyze why you would want to become a drilling reservist (i.e. financial reasons, sense of purpose, camaraderie, etc.).

If you plan to be a full time student, you will not be able to go FTS. Being a full time student usually limits your availability for annual training (AT), and that can be viewed as a negative (you can usually counter any negative aspects by being fully engaged with DWE activities that are vital to running the unit/enterprise).

If your schooling goes well, and you still intend to go to medical school, being in the reserves can expose you to potential mentors in the medical field. Depending on your rate (which is?) you may even be able to position yourself to gain experience in your targeted career field.

Ultimately, it comes down to attitude. If you have a good attitude, it should be a very rewarding experience. If you have a bad attitude (we've all taken some hits from big Navy at some point in our careers, and how you handle those hits can either set you up or take you down), then it will probably not be a valuable experience.
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PO2 Field Medical Technician
PO2 (Join to see)
3 y
Thank you for your response sir. I am a Corpsman. I have been fortunate to gain great experience and have worked with doctors that were willing to teach. Even after taking a big hit from big Navy and my career turning a complete 180, which is tough to bounce back from, I still have the desire to serve and don't want to be in financial trouble when I get out. And I do like the camaraderie, meeting new people, etc. Time is slowly running out, as I have slightly less than a year on AD.
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CAPT Project Manager
CAPT (Join to see)
3 y
Talk to an RC recruiter. I think the current policy is that if you transition from AC to RC that you are not to be mobilized for the first year. It may be two, but I'm not sure.
If you become a drilling reservist, communicate your plans and goals to your chain of command ASAP (i.e. manage expectations). Identify your dates of availability for AT soon as possible (Sailors that were students in my units typically weren't available for AT until the later part of May through the end of July. That makes it harder to do stuff that supports the supported command, but it is what it is.) Make sure that you are a star contributor during the drill weekends, and communicate as often as necessary during the rest of the month. As a former unit CO, I can tell you that my tolerance for buffoonery was extremely low. We all have our day jobs and families to contend with, and therefor tend to react strongly to things that make our reserve lives difficult.

I always looked negatively upon doing "AT with the NOSC." Sometimes it can't be helped, but don't let it happen two years in a row. Realistically, you should be striving to do something in support of the supported command, or going to a school for professional development.
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PO2 Field Medical Technician
PO2 (Join to see)
3 y
Will do sir. Great advice. Thank you again.
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LCDR Judge Advocate General's Corps Officer
LCDR (Join to see)
3 y
Before you decide, if you know anyone who is the field that you are in and a reservist, ask him or her about the pluses and minuses. The commitments can be time-consuming. And, remember, reservists deploy!

It is possible to get AT waived, but it is up to you to manage your own career to ensure that you get a good (qualifying) year for retirement. Generally, if you have 20 good years, then you qualify for retirement at 60. Retirement is based on rank and points. (Retirement is also being changed.)

Once you are a reservist, each time that you serve 90+ days on orders, you can deduct that from age 60. i.e. If you serve on 6 months orders, you could qualify for retirement at 59.5.
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PO2 Recruiter
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Doc, It's really up to you if you want to go Reserves.

Honestly, it's not so bad. Given that you are going to school full time, you'll just have one weekend of the month to drill. Your first two months in Reserve will be INDOC but it's just the same thing that is gone over so many times before during GMTs. You also will get time to get yourself set up with a parent command so you can do your AT during the FY (this will be explained). I mean if you want to keep yourself in check with PRTs/BCAs, Exam studying, and get away for 2 weeks out of the year; I'd say do it. Plus with you going to school, you may be able to apply some skill sets that you learned in school through your reserve HM stuff.
The FTS, it's basically you are Active Duty (your benefits and pay) but you are still part of the Reserves but not the SELRES. It was briefly explained to me when I was interested in FTS but my rate isn't really available right now. Talk to a Reserve recruiter and they will give you all the information you need or contact someone via here that is in the Reserves.

It's your career, you do what you feel is necessary for YOU, not the Navy.
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PO2 Field Medical Technician
PO2 (Join to see)
3 y
Thanks for the response! I am always thorough before I make a decision and I do as much research as possible. From the looks of it, it doesn't seem like a bad gig. I may give it a shot. You never know until you try.
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PO2 Recruiter
PO2 (Join to see)
3 y
PO2 (Join to see) - Very true. Usually commands are pretty decent. As long as you are taking care of yourself (because everything in the Reserves depends on you) both while in the Reserves and in the civilian world, no one will ask questions. And for future reference with anything involving your career; make copies upon copies upon copies. You know as well as I do that paperwork can get lost and make sure you have a backup of a backup of a backup. Good luck to you, Shipmate!
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PO2 Field Medical Technician
PO2 (Join to see)
3 y
Most definitely! Learned that the hard way when some stuff got lost. Thank you!
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