General Question

unused_bagels's avatar

If I were to become a reservist, which branch of the military should I join?

Asked by unused_bagels (1749points) January 14th, 2009

I’m an art teacher, and rather against killing and wars and such, but recent developments in our domestic budget require me to get a second, stable job. I remember when I was in JROTC In high school, I found the structure of a military chain of command stimulating. I actually would have joined the US armed forces right out of high school if I hadn’t been on ritalin at the time (I’m off now, of course). Does anyone have any suggestions/personal experiences they can share?

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22 Answers

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@unused bagels, don’t overlook the coast guard reserves. Around here, all of the reservists are seeing active duty. Even navy reserves are pulling ground duty in some cases. It may be regular extra money, but it’s not free.

queenzboulevard's avatar

I know nothing about the military (terms and all), but I have a friend who is in the National Guard reserves. He uses the money to pay for his college, or maybe they pay it for him. I never saw him as the military type, but he seems like he enjoys it.

unused_bagels's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock , Does the coast guard stay on the home front? I know the ANG is supposed to, but I’ve known people in it to get deployed.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I served 8 years in the Army on active duty and I have been in the Air National Guard for the last 12 years. I can tell you, without a doubt, that the Air Force has a more comfortable lifestyle and takes care of its people better than the Army does.

As far as joining the reserves, I’m biased toward the Air Force because of my satisfaction with them so I’d tell you to look at the Air Force Reserves first. But, it would be a good idea to look at all the different services when considering the type of career specialty you want when you actually enlist in one of the branches.

The Army and Marines (active duty, reserves, and national guard) are going to have a more active deployment tempo right now for Iraq and Afghanistan so that is something to consider also.

As a member of the Air National Guard, I have deployed twice to the Middle East, once in 1999 to the United Arab Emirates in support of Operation Southern Watch and the other time in 2003 to Masirah Island, Oman in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I’m a Security Forces member (Military Police in the Air Force) so we occasionally have a higher deployment tempo depending where we fall in the AEF (Air Expeditionary Force) rotations. Thirteen of my fellow unit members deployed to the Iraq-Kuwait border for 9 months in 2006 to work in a POW camp for insurgents and ‘persons of interest’ in the war on terror.

When it comes to deployments in the national guard and reserves, considerations will be what service you enlist in, what career field you choose, and changing considerations of military needs on an annual basis.

tekn0lust's avatar

I spent 6(active)x2(inactive) years in the Marine Corps reserve. I found the intense structure quite stifling and ended up not really enjoying my time. I was actively drilling between the two gulf conflicts and was never deployed. I did meet some really great guys who I will keep up with throughout my life.

tip #1—get all your info from actual reservists. Do not base your decision on any info from a recruiter. Worse than cars salesmen those guys.

tip #2—be prepared to ship to the middle east. You will go if you join. My former unit has been deployed 5 times since 2001.

tip #3—do your research to decide what you want to do in the service before you go any further, and be prepared to fight to stick with that job. Think of the military as a giant chess game, once you are in you will be moved where they want you not where you want to be.

In retrospect I think I would have enjoyed the Air Force Reserve more than the Marine Corps.

Good Luck!

Sakata's avatar

I was active Army infantry and spent a little time in the Army reserve. From my experience I always suggest to people that they join the Air Force. The Air Force actually cares about the soldier whereas the Army & Marines typically only focus on the mission first and soldier second.

tekn0lust's avatar

I had to LOL that your are considering joining the military and your avatar is a borg. Talk about assimilation… :)

Judi's avatar

Coast Guard? That way you would only have to shoot people whe were actually invading us.

Darwin's avatar

Either Air Force (better housing, more “white-collar” jobs) or Coast Guard (lousy housing but more likely to stay in North America).

We were Navy, and many Navy and Marine friends have been called up and deployed, even though the Army has the greatest numbers overseas..

StellarAirman's avatar

I’m in Iraq right now, active duty Air Force, and even over here right now we have much better quality of life than any other branch. We basically have our own little base inside of the larger Army base. The Army isn’t even allowed into our little base after a certain time of night. I have my own room in a trailer with heat/AC, internet access in my room, etc. The Army has multiple people to a room or still lives in tents. The Army side has big problems with theft, rape/sexual assaults (against guys and girls), and is deployed here for 15 months at a time while the AF is here for 4 months at a time.

Judi's avatar

@StellarAirman ;
That is GREAT info a person can use to make a decision! fluve! And Thank-you for our service. I may not agree with your commander who sent yo there, but I honor your willingness to serve your (OUR) country.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I’m in the Air National Guard, the benefits are as follows:

-100% tuition coverage at state funded schools (or an average for private schools something like 3,900 a semester up to)
-GI Bill and Kick Bonus (kicker applies to certain career fields) comes out to be about an extra 650 dollars a month
-Drill pay each month (assuming you show up, which you’re suppose to)...will come out to be about 150–170 depending on the state and taxes, and assuming your pay grade is E-3 – E-4

I’ve had a very good experience so far, I plan to stay in for 20 years for the pension and benefits, but probably cross train into something that interests me a bit more than security forces.

You will make plenty of new friends, have the opportunity to travel, get good experiences in other countries. Experiences for board interview and all sorts of things. And it looks amazing on a resume as well, it will always mean to an employer that you’re on time, you’re at least semi intelligent, follow instructions well, will look sharp and clean cut, and do what you’re told.

Some things to expect….if you enlist for 6 years, I’d expect to be deployed at some point, I’ve been in 3 years so far, and haven’t gone but I’m sure I will. Basic training is no fun regardless of the branch (just realize it only last 8 weeks or so, and you’ll be back home in no time). Do what you’re told, don’t ask too many questions, always remember your customs and courtesies.

I only know a few people in the coast guard…it didn’t sound very appealing to me. I’m not sure how their benefits match up against the ANG either.

Good luck on whatever course you choose.

unused_bagels's avatar

Thanks guys. So many family members have been recommending USAF to me, and it’s funny because I was in AFJROTC in high school, so I’m slightly more familiar with the workings of the branch than a fresh fresh recruit. I’m going to look up stuff on their website and make an informed decision thank to you guys, all of you. I like finding out from real people instead of a shiny, fantastic-looking website or a desperate recruiter.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

One of my younger friends is considering the reserves, and was talking about coast guard. If it has water, they’re there—not only the coasts, but all inland water. They do a lot with rescue training, recue stuff, like looking for people who fall off cruise ships, but also homeland security, biotechnology, boating safety, etc.

FiRE_MaN's avatar

personally id do army reserves because they have actual woodland camo even thought im a navy type of guy. marine to be specific.

unused_bagels's avatar

@FiRE_MaN Wow, I hardly think that the type of camo is my main priority here. After much more thought, I’ve decided that reserves wouldn’t pay enough, as I only make 15K a year. I’m now seriously considering active duty, in perhaps graphics or photography, something to do with the commercial arts. Military’s gotta advertise, you know?

RandomMrdan's avatar

@fire man, actually, you can get woodland camo in the air force. They aren’t issuing it anymore as a primary uniform, but you can still wear them. And I should also note, you’re getting digi’s when you go army. You’d have to go out and buy woodland for them as well.

StellarAirman's avatar

You can only wear woodland camo in the Air Force until 2011, then the mandatory wear date for the new ABUs (tiger stripe digital camo) starts and you can’t wear it anymore. And basing your choice of military branch on what uniforms they wear is pretty silly.

Photographers in the AF are sometimes tasked to be combat photographers from what I hear, meaning you’d be out on convoys and knocking down doors to take photos and document that type of activity. Not guaranteed I don’t think, but just one of their possible assignments, FYI. Just something to look into. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they start contracting out all of their graphics and photography, meaning those AFSCs would go away. A good thing to do is find the AFSC codes for the jobs you’re interested in and then google them to find some info about them. is one of the best sites with some good info.

TaoSan's avatar

If war isn’t your brand of Vodka you should think about the Coast Guard. They participate too of course, but not as extensively. Lots of other cool stuff to do, search and rescue, migrant and drug interdiction, etc.

Of course in the CG you’re at risk to end up at an ATON (Aids to Navigation) unit. You don’t know ugly unless you’ve crawled into a 30,000 pound buoy scraping barnacles ;)

But fun aside, I think no other service honors their member’s ADC/dream-sheet as much as the CG does. At least they used to when I was active duty up until ‘01. The benefits and people-centric thinking really rivals the Air Force.

sanbuu's avatar

I’m currently Active Duty AF and will soon be going into the reserve side of things. From what i can understand, reserve side will be a lot more chill then active for me. I was informed that DOD passed a law, which states that if you get deployed while in the AF reserves, they can’t send you again for a period of 5 times the amount you just did. I call that a super great benefit. All in all, i have many friends in all of the different branches, and they all say which i was in the AF.
Do like everyone says, do your own research and get the best possible job situation for your family.

anartist's avatar

Try to use your art ability to get into PsyOps in one of the services. Probably very interesting.
Here is an Army PsyOps site that has recruiting info.

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