So you’re done with active duty, but you’re thinking about being a reservist. It seems like a good deal, but you want to know what to expect. Welcome to Weekend Warrior 101.
If you’re like me, the world of the Weekend Warrior seemed to exist in a parallel universe. It sounded like an awesome deal, but I really didn’t understand it. I was ready to be out of active duty, but not ready to let go completely. Reserve duty (Read: Reservist? How to Balance It With a Civilian Job) presented a great way to keep one foot in the military world.
I made my way headlong into it, driving more than one career counselor to insanity with questions. But hey, that’s my specialty. Let me pass along to you some of the things I learned along the way:
Transition from active to reserve duty
If you are looking to transition from active duty directly to the reserves, you will have to begin the process early. I suggest up to six months before getting out. Talk with your command career counselors to get the ball rolling. There are several parts to the process that include obtaining a billet and medical approval. However, if there is a break in service between active duty and the reserves, you will be required to work with a reserve recruiter and go through the whole MEPs experience again. Oh yeah, because that was so fun the first time around.
A regular weekend of drilling equals four drill periods. Essentially the idea is that a reservist is paid for four days of work while only performing two days of work. Most pay charts are for an entire weekend. For more information on pay, the charts are available on the DFAS site.
It is theoretically possible that you can drill close to your chosen place of residence. The idea is that you can move anywhere and have a nearby location to perform your obligated drills. The reserves try to make this possible but it is not always the case. Reserve commands have specific functions and need specific MOS’s/rates. If your job does not fit in at the nearest command, you have a couple of options.
- Attach to another command that utilizes your job field
- This may require you to travel farther than you prefer and may not come with travel pay each time you must drill
- Change your job field
- If you wish to stay at a specific command you may find yourself forced to move into a new MOS/rate.
Drills are flexible
This is also theoretical. Most commands attempt to work with the reserve duty member and find ways to work with their schedules. However, you should remember that reserve duty is a military obligation. Commands attempt to work with you, but are not required to do so. There will be drills that will require your participation. Reservists are required to meet a set number of drill hours, and failure to do so does result in an administrative discharge.
You will be required to maintain your physical fitness standards just as you did in active duty. Physical fitness testing occurs on the same schedule as the active duty components.
Two weeks a year
This is exactly as it sounds. Reservists are required to perform two weeks of training every year. This is waived for the first year of those transitioning directly from active duty. This is not necessarily performed on site at your command. There are a number of opportunities for special assignments and travel. These are all contingent on your job field. It may include training or support of a program or exercise.
There you have it!
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