Monday, December 30, 2013

Go Guard!

Wait, what?  Isn't Erin a Reservist?

Yes, yes I am!  But AHE recognizes that your Air Force provides you with choices, and that you must do what's best for you, your career goals, and your family.  There are some common experiences for all three (active duty, AFR, ANG), but they are each their own unique beasts in other areas.  I write from my perspective as a Reservist and there's just some questions I can't answer without referring you to another subject matter expert (SME).  


Dina began her Air Force career as an active duty Airman, but switched to the Guard through the Palace Chase program [more on that in a future post] after having her son.  She is also part of a dual military couple, and married to a fellow Airman as well.  Dina blogs over at Blueberries and Bokeh, where she shares her love for photography by assisting others grow in their own skill set!  Her AFSC?  Photojournalism.  Pretty damn cool if you ask me!  Read what she has to say about the ANG after the jump!   




Are you thinking about joining the Air National Guard? 


I’ll tell you, first of all the Air National Guard is a separate service.  We can and do work hand and hand with the National Guard, which is actually the Army.  While of course the Air National Guard is the Air Force.  

Both services work for the state and the federal government but only when called to activation by the president.  But just to clear this up, we work for and get paid by the state.  So whatever state you join the Guard in your big boss is the Governor of the state. 

The Guard responds to state emergencies and tasking sent down to them by the Governor.  Which could be anything from wildfires, flash floods, hurricanes, snow storms, etc.  The Guard is also involved in community programs and is very integrated into the community since many of the members of the unit work within the community during the normal workweek. 

The Guard is located in every single state to include the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and The U.S. Virgin Islands. 

All the jobs that are in the Air Force and the Air Force Reserve are the same exact jobs in the Guard.

The Guard does offer educational benefits such as the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which I bought into and I’m currently using now.  I feel as a Guardsman if you are not working and you have enough time in service that using this option is the best bet due to the BAH stipend.  But you need to have enough time in service to be able to use that option. 

There are also health benefits at a very reasonable rate and some medical things can even be taken care of at an Active Duty clinic if you live in a city near one.

Like the Reserve, the Guard offers Technician positions and Activated Guard positions.  The differences are the benefits to include education, health and rank.  AGR positions are basically just like being the Active Duty counter-part only you don’t move. 

Another similarity to the Reserve is that the Guard is required to work one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year.  However, depending on your unit you do not have to work the entire two weeks at one time.  You can split your days up over the course of the fiscal year. 

If you choose to move to another state a positive is that you don’t have to give up your time in the Guard.  You can transfer to different Guard units to include the territories.  The only downside to the Guard is if you are married to an Active Duty Service member it can be tricky with finding you a new unit.  It is very easy to move stateside.  However, if you spouse gets orders overseas you might have to consider transferring to the Air Force Reserve since they do have positions overseas.  Or going in what is called inactive ready reserve (IRR), which is basically taking a break in service until you return to the states.  If your unit were out of this world awesome a final option would be that your unit would allow you to complete all of your drill weekends and annual training days at one time. 

Another perk about being in the Guard is you are able to travel military air for a very, very, very….did I say very?  Very, good price.  You would be able to travel to all the continental United States and Alaska and Hawaii. 

You would also be able to take advantage of Active Duty privileges such as the commissary and the base exchange if you are near a active military base.  This includes other military services too!

And finally the most fantastic thing about being in the Guard is the people you work with.  Many of them have been in the unit a very long time.  Which is a good thing, because they are very good at their jobs.  Also if you are unhappy with your job, it is not difficult to retrain in the Guard like it is Active Duty.  As long as you qualify for a job you are able to move to that job.  Which provides a lot of new opportunities and job growth. 

Just don’t forget that even though the Guard does work for the state there are still chances that you can deploy in support of contingency operations. 

The Guard is an amazing service and has fantastic people.  

Thank you Dina!  I hope this helps shed some light on the differences and opportunities that the ANG has to offer! - Erin