Having a hard time telling the difference between the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve? Although members of both services wear the same uniform and train part-time, there are some key differences you should know about before you enlist.
State vs. Federal Control
The most important thing to remember when comparing the National Guard and Army Reserve is that the National Guard is a “dual service,” with both state and federal control, whereas the Army Reserve is strictly under the control of the federal government.
The National Guard actually evolved from state militias. It traces its roots back to 1636, more than 100 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Because of its unique status, state governors often activate the Guard to respond to local emergencies. National Guardsmen serve as rescue workers during floods, curfew enforcers during hurricanes and police reinforcements during times of unrest. During times of war, the federal government can exercise its power to activate National Guard troops for military service.
The Army Reserve, on the other hand, is exclusively used to supplement the federal military. It is prohibited from responding to disasters at home.
Members of both the National Guard and the Army Reserve enjoy a number of benefits that help them pursue their education. For example, both can take advantage of the Montgomery G.I. Bill and apply for federal tuition assistance. However, only National Guardsmen can take advantage of special education incentives offered by their state. Contact your local recruiter to learn about your state’s benefits.
Since members of the National Guard primarily serve at home, Guard service is ideal for those who want to start their careers while serving their country. If you’re more interested in a long-term Army career, the Army Reserve might be right for you. Make an informed decision by consulting your family, advisers and recruiters from all of the services in which you have an interest.
Photo: National Guard