What are the Reserves / National Guard?

Reservists and National Guardsmen are everyday citizens who hold regular non-military jobs. In addition to their non-military (civilian) jobs, they participate in training one weekend a month and an additional two weeks training period once a year under a specific branch of the Armed Services (for the Reserves) or as part of the National Guard in exchange for a monthly salary, which is based on a day of active duty pay for every four hours of work performed at the service members current rank.

Originally, the National Guard was formed to help our country in times of domestic disasters – for example, hurricane and flooding response. The Reserves were established to serve as an additional troop floor in times of conflict.

How do Reservists get deployed to war?

The Reserve units usually get 90 days notice before deployment. Prior to being deployed, they attend combat simulation training for about 60 days. The deployments are usually for 400 days and there isn’t a set number of times a service member can be deployed. The military is working very hard to space the deployments out to 18 month between deployments. A service member can be deployed immediately out of basic training when he reports to his duty station.

What happens to their job and pay?

Reservists and National Guardsmen who are called into action will stop receiving their non-military job pay and instead receive military pay which is substantially less then what they usually make. This often means that their families are forced to survive on paychecks that are often one third or a half of what they used to make. Many families face problems paying bills. While employers are legally required to keep their jobs, an estimated [23%] of reservists return from service to find that they have lost their jobs.

This situation is made worse when Reservists and National Guardsmen return and are injured or disabled.

How easy is it for them to access services?

Reservists and National Guardsmen are often based in small towns far away from active duty military infrastructure and support. In many cases, reservists have to drive several hours to access care from the Veterans Administration and with the price of gasoline today this is a financially challenging situation.