As a soldier in the Army Reserve, you serve your country part-time while still having the freedom to pursue a full-time career or education program. Army Reserve soldiers serve one weekend per month and an additional two weeks each year. Speak with a recruiter and consider all of the pros and cons before joining.
Pay and Benefits
Army Reservists are paid for all training and work time, based on their rank and length of time in service. For example, according to the Defense Finance Accounting Service, as of 2014, an enlisted soldier at the E-3 pay grade with less than two years of service earns $240.72 per weekend. An officer at the O-3 pay grade earns $896.80. In addition, the Army offers several bonus programs. When you sign up, you may earn up to $20,000 in bonuses based on the length of the enlistment and any special skills.
A primary benefit of the Army Reserve is that soldiers receive cutting-edge training in the field of their choice after completing basic training. The Army also offers continued training in leadership and specialized schools in your field. You will be able to use the skills and knowledge gained in military training in your civilian career. Prior to enlisting, ensure that you meet the minimum qualifications for your desired military occupational specialty. You may need to achieve a minimum score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB test, and meet physical fitness and medical qualifications.
In addition to Army training, the Reserves offers soldiers several types of financial assistance to pursue a college education. For example, the Reserve Officers' Training Corp scholarship pays the full amount of a student's tuition. Upon graduation, the student must serve in the military as an officer. The student loan repayment program helps students by repaying up to $30,000 in student loans in exchange for a six-year commitment.
Possibility of Deployment
One disadvantage of joining the Army Reserve is the possibility that your unit will be ordered to deploy. As of 2012, Army deployments range from nine to 12 months for both active-duty and Reserve forces. Although you receive full-time pay and benefits during your deployment, you must take a leave from your civilian job and be separated from your family for the length of the deployment. Depending on your assignment, deployments can place you in dangerous situations.
Commitment to Service
Unlike civilian jobs, the U.S. Army does not allow soldiers to quit if they no longer like their job. When joining the Army Reserve, you sign an enlistment contract for a term of three to six years. You must fulfill that commitment to the Army and attend drills, training and deployments for the duration of your contract. If you fail to attend nine or more required drills and training, you may be discharged from the military under honorable conditions or other-than-honorable conditions. Although rare, you might also be charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If you fail to appear when ordered to mobilize, you might be administratively discharged under other-than-honorable conditions or receive another sentence as determined in a court-martial.