About the Military

Full- and Part-Time Options

Today’s Military comprises five Service branches, each with active-duty and part-time components. Part-time duty includes five Reserve and two Guard components. Location, mission and service commitments vary greatly, though all are on the same rank-based pay scale.

A Complementary Commitment

Corporal Amayah Littlewolf and her mother, Wenona Kingbird, discuss how part-time service in the Army National Guard allows her to pursue a college education, a future filled with purpose, and more.

Length 1:31 View Transcript


Corporal Amayah Littlewolf, U.S. Army National Guard:   In the Army National Guard we serve part-time which really helps because I can get my classes done and I can also work when I need to work. I drill one weekend a month and then two weeks in the summer. We have classroom time and then we have times that we're out working on the trucks, making sure that they're good to go, seeing if they need any maintenance done to them. We have to work a lot on the drill weekends but it's fun. It's so cool seeing people in my unit on their civilian side. They have all different jobs, there's police officers, nurses. There's such a variety of different people.

Wenona Littlewolf:   I'm really happy that she's able to keep the things that she enjoys and especially working towards a degree and then keeping her military side to, going all the same time. It's really awesome that she's able to do well with that. In our spiritual ways, we always talk about living a good life. I think she's done a really good job living that good life.

Amayah:    So my major is biochemistry, even though it sounds really specific you can do a lot of things with it. I feel like I would have purpose helping people whether it's on the admin side of healthcare or like actually being a provider, that's what I'm interested in. The whole purpose of being a soldier is to serve your country. Everything you're doing is for your community and for your country so I think they tie hand in hand with helping people.

Active Duty (Full-Time)

Active-duty service members are full-time members of the Military, living on base or in military housing and immersed in military culture. After attending boot camp, they are typically stationed at a base either domestically or overseas for terms that typically last two to six years. During this time, they may also explore advanced training opportunities to further build hands-on and technical skills. If service members are deployed, the length of time away varies depending on a unit's specific mission.

Reserve (Part-Time)

The Reserve was created to provide and maintain trained units at home while active-duty service members are deployed. Each military branch has a Reserve component under its command, which is available for active-duty deployment in times of war or national emergency.

Reservists are part-time service members, allowing them time to pursue a civilian career or college education while simultaneously serving their country. Members of the Reserve attend boot camp and are required to participate in training drills one weekend a month as well as a two-week program each year. Reservists can be deployed to serve alongside active-duty service members for special missions.

Reserve and Guard Opportunities

Members of the Reserve and National Guard share how military service has enriched their personal and professional lives.

Length 1:28 View Transcript


2nd Lieutenant Amanda Morgan: The best thing that I’ve gotten out of my experience with the National Guard, and the Military in general, is just the discipline and the responsibility that I’ve learned from it.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adrien Cheval: The Coast Guard Reserve offers almost the same benefits and opportunities as the active-duty side of the house. And it allows me to have a full-time profession on the outside.

Senior Airman Jessica Eastburn: I decided to do reserves so I can still pursue my degree, as well as do the Military at the same time.

1st Lieutenant Meridith Fonseca: I think the Reserve is the best of both worlds. You get to have your civilian job and hobbies, and friends and family, and then you get to have your Army family and friends, and your Service. So you get the opportunity to take a break from your civilian job or civilian schooling, and go serve.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adrien Cheval: To pilot a very nice Coast Guard boat, to do search and rescue and maritime law enforcement, the fact that I get to be a federal law enforcement officer certainly complements my civilian job. It gives me a different perspective on things, and I have a lot to talk about when I go home or when I go over to my friends’ house, and that sort of thing.

Captain Shawn Tulp: The Army Reserve has helped my civilian career in several ways. First of all, the additional training I’ve had for trauma has also made me a better civilian nurse when it comes to taking care of patients in a critical-care setting.

2nd Lieutenant Amanda Morgan: I know that it’s definitely brought opportunities to me in my civilian career, in getting part-time jobs or getting positions in my sorority, or getting positions on ROTC that I would like. Whatever it is, it definitely comes out as a civilian as it does in Military.

National Guard (Part-Time)

The National Guard consists of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. Every U.S. state and territory, as well as the District of Columbia, fields their own separate Guard unit, which operates distinctly and separately from the others. Each National Guard group goes by its state name (for example, the New York National Guard) and reports to that state’s governor.

The Guard’s focus is on homeland security and humanitarian relief. In addition to training drills one weekend a month and two full weeks per year, National Guard units assist communities in their state during emergencies like storms, floods, fires and other natural disasters.

During times of conflict, the president can federalize the National Guard, and its service members can be deployed overseas. National Guard members deployed overseas may see combat, but are also assigned noncombat humanitarian tasks, such as building schools and hospitals, training local peacekeepers and other community-building projects.

Split Training (Part-Time)

The Army, Army National Guard and Coast Guard offer a split training option. High school students (and college and vocational students in the case of the Coast Guard) may train for two summers and serve one weekend a month during the school year. They receive pay for their weekend service and, after training is complete, begin Reserve duty. For more information, contact a recruiter.

Types of Military Service

The U.S. Military consists of five active-duty Service branches and their respective Guard and Reserve components. Together, they offer a broad variety of ways to serve.

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