The Benefits of Transitioning to the Reserves from Active-Duty Military Service
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By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University
Servicemembers are faced with an important decision at the end of their enlistment: whether to separate from military service or transition into the Reserves.
The Reserves offer many great opportunities, including the opportunity to remain associated with the military without the full-time commitment of being active duty. Military Reservists commonly work two days a month and have two weeks of active-duty training a year.
After completing eight years of active duty in the Coast Guard, I spent 12 years in the Reserves. When I transferred to the Reserves, I was able to build upon my active-duty training and also maintain my boarding officer and boat coxswain qualifications.
The Reserve program has been rewarding because it allows me to continue to work toward a military retirement. I participate in Coast Guard operations on a monthly basis while I pursue my civilian career as a full-time educator.
In addition, I have taken advantage of service-related scholarships, tuition assistance and the Post-911 G.I. Bill. This financial assistance helped me further my education while I was on active duty and during my time as a Reservist.
I found it beneficial to attend a university that understood military culture and the requirements of Reserve members. As a drilling Reservist, I attended American Military University.
AMU was willing to work with me to balance my schoolwork and Reserve responsibilities. That was especially important to me during my required annual two-week active duty training because I had additional time to complete my coursework.
Reserve Members Can Return to Active Duty if Finding a Civilian Job is Difficult
One of the advantages of transitioning to the Reserves immediately after separation from the service is the potential to return to active duty if the civilian job market is tight. If that’s the case, a Reservist could attend school full-time and then transition back to active duty as a commissioned officer.
Transitioning to the Reserves also means having access to low-cost healthcare. Reservists can obtain Tricare Reserve Select, a premium-based policy that offers comprehensive coverage for military families. In addition, Reserve members are eligible for life insurance benefits and may even qualify for re-enlistment bonuses.
Members of the Reserve can participate in contingency operations as active duty for a temporary period. They then can assist in a national emergency or other mobilization.
These mobilization activations can help Reserve members contribute more to their military retirement because their civilian jobs are protected by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Senior-Level Reservists Ranks Often Acquire Leadership Experience
Just as during active duty, Reserve members have a great deal of responsibility during their two weeks of drilling. Reservists who reach the senior ranks that align with active duty pay grades are often assigned supervisory roles.
Many Reserve units are manned solely by Reserve members. As a result, they build leadership skills and training that help them in their civilian jobs.
The Reserves offers substantial benefits for active-duty servicemembers approaching the end of their enlistment. Serving in a Reserve unit offers many of the benefits of active-duty service, even when you pursue your civilian career goals at the same time.
About the Author
Dr. Jarrod Sadulski has been a member of the Coast Guard since 1997. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering. He has received commendations from the Coast Guard. Currently, Jarrod is a supervisor in the Reserve Program and provides leadership to Reserve members who conduct homeland security, search and rescue, and law enforcement missions.