Author Topic: National Guard Advice.....  (Read 3110 times)

chris316

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National Guard Advice.....
« on: May 10, 2017, 11:07:47 AM »
I'm 29 and looking at joining the national guard... I figure 1 wkend a month and 2 weeks a year isn't too bad (about 10% of your time) for 20yrs (retire from that when I'm 50), you serve your country, possible can learn a trade or help you improve your current job to promote, and the training pay can cover a yearly Roth Ira contribution, and help me get to Fire faster (or athe least i think).... I know the typical advice I'll get is to talk to a recruiter but what are some things I should know that I won't get from them? Advice? Like what's the retirement benefits like? Or how was your experience?

RFAAOATB

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2017, 11:44:48 AM »
If you have a college degree do not enlist.  Go to officer candidate school or forget ever wanting to join. 

Sailor Sam

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2017, 12:00:28 PM »
I'm active duty, but my advice is to join because you want to serve your country, or you want a cool job, or you want to go to war. Don't join specifically and only for the retirement bennies, because that 20 year cliff vest is a steep cliff indeed. Being in the military chews people up physically, and spits them out broken. Get ill, or injured, and suddenly you're medically separated at 15 years.

All that being said, I love being in the military. Love the service, and the esprit d'corps, and the gigantic machinery I get to operate. I think it's a great life, but certainly one you have to chose with eyes open. 20 years will be fantastic, but it might not happen.

KungfuRabbit

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 12:27:25 PM »
What is your current job?

Will they pay you during those two weeks a year?  Lots of places let you go and serve and will hold your job...but not pay you. May not be as much net $$ as you think.


chris316

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2017, 01:36:20 PM »
If you have a college degree do not enlist.  Go to officer candidate school or forget ever wanting to join.

I do have a college degree..... B.A. in Communications.....

Don't join specifically and only for the retirement bennies, because that 20 year cliff vest is a steep cliff indeed. Being in the military chews people up physically, and spits them out broken. Get ill, or injured, and suddenly you're medically separated at 15 years.

Can you please elaborate on this more?

What is your current job?

Will they pay you during those two weeks a year?


I work in water utilities and want to further my expertise in civil engineering

CheapskateWife

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 01:55:50 PM »
I got out of the NG not long ago...depending on your state and their thirst for federal dollars, you may find your self in a rapidly deploying environment that hinders your ability to stay employed/competitive in your primary profession.  Unless you are ready to consider full time NG service, I wouldn't risk my civilian career.

Also, be aware that you can retire from the NG after 20 "good" years, but you can't draw your pension until you reach the age of 60.

Sailor Sam

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2017, 02:52:47 PM »
Don't join specifically and only for the retirement bennies, because that 20 year cliff vest is a steep cliff indeed. Being in the military chews people up physically, and spits them out broken. Get ill, or injured, and suddenly you're medically separated at 15 years.

Can you please elaborate on this more?

Sure. Not sure which part your specifically asking about, so this is a broad answer. Apologies if this covers stuff you already know.

1. The monthly pension element of military retirement is set up to incentivize staying for 20 years. There is no partial pension*. If you serve 17 years, and for some reason can no longer serve, you are totally shit out of luck.

2. If you are not longer physically and emotionally able to serve, you will be separated. If the medical problem is the direct result of your service, you'll get some disability pension. If the medical problem is not related to service, you will be medically separated with no pension. Sorry, buddy. Better luck next life.

3. Most service careers end up being pretty physical. You have to maintain standards, hump 50# packs, live under constant sleep deprivation, endure some pretty wicked stress, be held responsible for keeping people alive in hostile environments. Being an officer is a little better, being an infantry grunt is worse. The military has no incentive to treat you gently, because there is a constant stream of 18 year olds ready to replace you. As a 29 y.o. you're already past the physical prime the infantry is looking for. No matter your specialty, chances are extremely high you will end up hurt. The real gamble is on how chronically you'll end up injured.

4. The second way for you to get booted is the Up-Or-Out promotion system. Every few years, a cohort is looked at for promotion, based on your time in service and at rank. If you get looked at for promotion, and don't get selected twice in a row, then you can be involuntarily separated. In my service, only 50% of eligible contenders are selected for Commander. That means 50% of officers in my service get booted around 15 years of service, without any pension.

Take a look at this article, about Military Pension being a helluva carrot, that only 17% of service members ever reach.

I know this post was quite negative. Again, I love serving my country. I don't have any plans to leave before that magic 20 years, but I'm realistic about my chances of never getting the brass ring.

*There are actually many exceptions to this, but none of them are under you control, and cannot really be planned for.

EDIT: spelling
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 02:55:44 PM by Sailor Sam »

CheapskateWife

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2017, 03:01:06 PM »
Don't join specifically and only for the retirement bennies, because that 20 year cliff vest is a steep cliff indeed. Being in the military chews people up physically, and spits them out broken. Get ill, or injured, and suddenly you're medically separated at 15 years.

Can you please elaborate on this more?

Sure. Not sure which part your specifically asking about, so this is a broad answer. Apologies if this covers stuff you already know.

1. The monthly pension element of military retirement is set up to incentivize staying for 20 years. There is no partial pension*. If you serve 17 years, and for some reason can no longer serve, you are totally shit out of luck.

2. If you are not longer physically and emotionally able to serve, you will be separated. If the medical problem is the direct result of your service, you'll get some disability pension. If the medical problem is not related to service, you will be medically separated with no pension. Sorry, buddy. Better luck next life.

3. Most service careers end up being pretty physical. You have to maintain standards, hump 50# packs, live under constant sleep deprivation, endure some pretty wicked stress, be held responsible for keeping people alive in hostile environments. Being an officer is a little better, being an infantry grunt is worse. The military has no incentive to treat you gently, because there is a constant stream of 18 year olds ready to replace you. As a 29 y.o. you're already past the physical prime the infantry is looking for. No matter your specialty, chances are extremely high you will end up hurt. The real gamble is on how chronically you'll end up injured.

4. The second way for you to get booted is the Up-Or-Out promotion system. Every few years, a cohort is looked at for promotion, based on your time in service and at rank. If you get looked at for promotion, and don't get selected twice in a row, then you can be involuntarily separated. In my service, only 50% of eligible contenders are selected for Commander. That means 50% of officers in my service get booted around 15 years of service, without any pension.

Take a look at this article, about Military Pension being a helluva carrot, that only 17% of service members ever reach.

I know this post was quite negative. Again, I love serving my country. I don't have any plans to leave before that magic 20 years, but I'm realistic about my chances of never getting the brass ring.

*There are actually many exceptions to this, but none of them are under you control, and cannot really be planned for.

EDIT: spelling
+1000 to everything SS said here.

DH is retired from Active duty, but at the ripe old age of 48 he is 80% disabled...not because of anything like sleep apnea, but the structural damage his service caused.  Back, neck, hips, knees, feet; all shot. 

Sorry, don't mean to be a Debbie Downer but I'd rather have him healthy than that damn disability payment. 

JoJo

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2017, 05:06:39 PM »
My brother was in the NG for about 8 years.  The only reason he didn't have to go to Iraq was because he was going thru a divorce and there was child custody involved - the rest of his unit was deployed.   He was seriously thinking about re-upping with a new wife and 4 kids at home since the bonus was about $20K, but my parents begged him not to and offered him the money to get out.

With the world going the way it is, the chances of being deployed are very high.  Then you hear the stories of people dying, losing limbs, or coming home with PTSD. 

NorCal

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2017, 06:19:29 PM »
I went between the reserve, guard and active duty between 1999 - 2006.  Overall, the reserves and guard was a positive experience.  Active duty was more of a mixed bag for a variety of reasons.

Important considerations:

1.  What is your current civilian career trajectory?  This is the biggest variable that could make it worth it / not worth it.  If you want to be on the track for VP / executive type roles, that will be entirely incompatible with the guard / reserves.  I was a college student in the reserves, which was perfect.  However, it would never work with my current 40-60hr / week job.
2.  Understand how the 1 weekend a month / 2 weeks / year works for your schedule.  You don't get to choose when those two weeks are.  Would this work with job and family responsibilities?
3.  The unit you decide to join will matter as much (if not more) than the job you choose.  Some units show up and do very little.  Others are very active.  The active units get to have all the fun.  I was in a more active unit that got to rappel out of helicopters, shoot LOTS of live ammo, do fun urban warfare training etc.  The downside of this is that a "weekend" can actually be 4-5 days long.  There's also expectations to attend "voluntary" extra training.  Figure out which type of unit fits your lifestyle best.
4.  Expect to deploy multiple times during your career.  Murphy's Law says that these deployments will happen when it is least convenient for you.
5. For financial projections assume you will only do one enlistment until you actually make the decision to re-enlist.  Many who think they will (including myself) don't end up staying in for a variety of reasons.

There's a ton of good advice here.  I actually think the guard / reserve is a good idea as long as it is compatible with everything else you want to achieve in life.  I remember the money was just a couple hundred dollars / mo.  It's not enough to materially impact FIRE, unless the GI Bill is a big part of your plans.

rebel_quietude

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2017, 08:48:19 PM »
Hopping on to NorCal's #4.

If you're raising your right hand and swearing to serve - particularly in the Army - you are doing so with the knowledge that you are volunteering to deploy. With all that entails. If you are not willing to deploy, or would rather not but really want that GI Bill, do us a favor and don't join the military.

There's a lot of talk of military benefits from recruiters and the like. At our core, however, we are an expeditionary force. If you're willing to deploy with a smile on your face, step into the nearest recruiting station and enjoy the roller coaster.

Cowardly Toaster

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2017, 12:16:41 PM »
All I will say is to meticulously document any injuries by going to sick call or your military provider. God forbid you injure yourself, you'll have a hell of a time proving it after without documentation. I've had some back and neck problems from the military that I didn't document well because I figured there was nothing they could do.

MsPeacock

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Re: National Guard Advice.....
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2017, 03:34:18 PM »
All I will say is to meticulously document any injuries by going to sick call or your military provider. God forbid you injure yourself, you'll have a hell of a time proving it after without documentation. I've had some back and neck problems from the military that I didn't document well because I figured there was nothing they could do.

This is even more an issue for reserve and guard because any claim will result in an LOD and having to prove that the injury occurred while on AD. I have seen the most astounding bureaucratic nightmares from reservists in the med board process. It's bad enough with AD.

Agree with PP about scheduling and expectation of deployment. Many peOpel end up transferring from reserve to AD after deployment because they can't return to their civilian jobs easily.