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What Is the Process for Signing Up for the National Guard?

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The National Guard is made up of two components — the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. The process to enlist is the same for each. Service in both components is open to almost everyone, whether you have previously served in the military or not. You must meet the educational and physical requirements for enlistment. Joining the National Guard takes about one week from start to finish, and is a relatively painless process.


National Guard hopefuls must first visit with a recruiter from the National Guard unit you are joining. The recruiter will conduct a detailed interview with you, help you fill out the entrance paperwork, and help you choose a job — Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), for Army Guard members; or Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), for Air Guard members. The recruiter also takes you on a tour of your new unit and introduces you to key personnel and offices. In addition, the recruiter guides you through the entire enlistment process, from start to finish.

Physical test

Non-prior service members receive a physical exam either at the nearest Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), or the prospective unit's medical squadron or company. Members with prior service must complete a physical exam only in the event that their most recent physical is more than three years old. This exam is also conducted at MEPS or the prospective unit. The physical exam consists of a complete examination of physical and mental characteristics, including dental, vision and hearing. Members must pass the physical to be allowed to enlist in the National Guard.

Aptitude Test

Non-prior enlistees must complete the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) exam to be allowed to enlist. This exam tests individuals in several areas to determine which jobs the individual is best suited for. Prior service enlistees do not have to sit through the ASVAB exam unless they choose to. Reasons for a retake of the ASVAB include low scores on a previous exam, or a desire to retake for personal reasons.

Enlistment and Service

After all requirements are complete, the recruit is allowed to enlist in the National Guard. An officer administers the Oath of Enlistment; the member, recruiter and officer sign the enlistment contract; and the recruit becomes a member of the unit. The new member must complete at least 50 points towards retirement each year. These points are made up of monthly drill weekends (2 points per day, or 4 points for each monthly drill weekend), Annual Training periods (1 per day, for a total of 15), and active-duty periods (1 point per day). Each member also receives 15 points just for being a member of the National Guard. A member must attain at least 50 points per year, over 20 years, to be able to retire.