List of Pros and Cons of the National Guard
Joining the military is a very serious decision that should not be made lightly. Choosing to serve your country on a full or part time basis is no small matter. If you already have a job, a family, and other commitments, full time service may be undesirable or impossible for you. The National Guard does give you the opportunity to join up and serve your country while holding a civilian job. But it still has its own pros and cons.
List of Pros of the National Guard
1. Job Training
Once you complete Basic Combat Training, you choose a job from a long list of possible careers. You will have to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery examination, which will play a role in determining what career paths are open to you. You can become a medic, a pilot, an engineer, join the military police or the Special Forces, and more. If you already have a job this might not be as appealing to you, but if you are just finishing your schooling, this can be very valuable training that will help you in the civilian sector as well.
There are many different military programs that help enlisted personnel pursue higher education. There are programs that will pay 100% of your tuition for you and other that pay tuition as well as offer money for books and other expenses. If you have already earned your degree, there are programs that will help you pay back your student loans. Be aware, however, that many of these programs do not kick in automatically and will take time to set up.
List of Cons of the National Guard
1. Risk of Deployment
As a member of the National Guard, you are eligible for deployment. The National Guard is less likely to see combat than other branches of the military, but you may still be sent into risky situations. A common assignment for the National Guard is natural disaster relief. This does not come without its own risks, and also pulls you away from your family and your home for an unspecified period of time. Once you enlist, you have no control over where they send you.
2. Long Commitment Period
The minimum service time for enlistment in the National Guard is 3 years (unless you have previous service experience). Contracts can be for as long as 8 years. If you commit to 6 or 8 years of service and then decide that you want you, you are out of luck. You have committed and you are required to fulfill your obligations. This can be especially frustrating if your situation changes (if you start a family, for example) and have no way of getting out of your service contract.