2014-01-31 / Spectrum

Reserve component offers good option

Thinking about leaving active duty? Then you should be thinking about service in the Reserve or National Guard.

The reality is, the Army and all the other military services are shrinking. It’s a normal, expected and planned process. Those of us who’ve been associated with the armed forces for more than a few years have seen the ebb and flow of end strengths, as conflicts wind down. We’ve seen reenlistment become a competitive process. We’ve seen boards convened to determine who can be retained and who will return to the private sector. And we’ve seen generations of service members trying to predict the future so they can make smart decisions about their military careers.

Let us be clear – we are not advocating leaving the service. But we know that some of you will, and if you do, we think service in the reserve component provides you with a great opportunity to take full advantage of your military experience while continuing to provide a critical service to the nation.

The skills acquired over the last few years will benefit you and the nation, whether you continue in active service or move into the civilian sector. If you decide to serve as a reservist or guardsman you will find some of the benefits you already enjoy will continue and others will be available to you -- health insurance options, Servicemembers Group Life Insurance and time towards retirement pay. Reserve component personnel who live close to military installations have full use of the commissary and the Exchange and Clothing Sales. In addition your rank will carry over.

In today’s operational environment, the reserve component is no longer the one-weekend-a-month, two-weeks-a-year entity that never leaves home; that hasn’t been true for years. The reserves are total operational forces, ready for a wide array of missions to include overseas exercises and contingency operations, Defense Support to Civil Authorities and quick reaction to natural disasters in your community. The reserve component is an instrumental element of the total force – trained, equipped, and prepared to defend America’s freedoms.

You may have friends who have made the decision to separate from active service and often find it hard to replace the adventure, camaraderie, respect and pride from that service. The reserve component provides the opportunity to serve part-time while pursuing options in the civilian sector; for example, you can pursue an additional college degree, focus on your family, begin a new career start your own business. Your opportunities are endless.

It is important to have a plan in place when transitioning from active duty, but leaving the active component for civilian life does not mean you need to end your military career. Reserve component service lets you start a new chapter in your life without closing the book on your time in uniform.

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