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When you sign that enlistment contract, you are obligating yourself to the military for a total of eight years. Paragraph 10a of the enlistment contract states:. Any part of that service not served on active duty must be served in a Reserve Component unless I am sooner discharged. You serve your four years and get out. This total 8 year service commitment applies whether you enlist on active duty, or join the Reserves or National Guard. The key is, once you join, if there are any conflicts going on, the military can hold you past your normal separation or retirement date.

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Up until October , the Army and Navy were the only services that offered active duty enlistments for periods of less than four years. However, because of enlistment shortages, the Army has dramatically expanded slots under this program in and The Air Force and Marine Corps still have little interest in a two-year active duty program. So, they implemented the very basics and applied many restrictions — you probably have a better chance of hitting the lottery than getting one of the very few National Call to Service slots in these two branches. For example, under the Air Force Plan, the program is limited to one percent of all enlistments about total recruits, out of 37, , and the program is limited to 29 Air Force jobs.

The Army and the Navy are the only services which have active duty enlistment options of less than four years, which are not part of the National Call to Service program. The Army offers enlistment contracts of two years, three years, four years, five years, and six years. Most Army jobs require a minimum enlistment period of four years, and some Army jobs require a minimum enlistment period of five years.

The Navy offers a very few two year and three year contracts, where the recruit spends two or three years on active duty, followed by six years in the Active Reserves. The other services offer four, five, and six year enlistment options The Air Force only offers four and six year enlistments. All Air Force enlisted jobs are available for four-year enlistees. However, the Air Force will give accelerated promotions for individuals who agree to enlist for six years. They are then promoted to the grade of E-3 Airman First Class upon completion of technical training, or after 20 weeks after basic training graduation whichever occurs first.


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Six year enlistment options are not open to all jobs, at all times. Most Navy jobs are available for four-year enlistees, but some special programs such as Nuclear Field require a five year enlistment.

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These special programs usually offer increased training opportunities, and accelerated promotion. Enlistment Incentives. As I said above, each of the below incentives needs to be included on the enlistment contract or an annex to the contract — otherwise they are not likely to be valid.

An enlistment incentive is different than a military benefit in that not everyone is eligible, and it must be in the enlistment contract to be valid. For example, an enlistment bonus is an enlistment incentive. Not everyone qualifies for an enlistment bonus. It depends on qualifications and job selected. Therefore, to be valid, it must be on the enlistment contract. The Montgomery G. Bill, or Tuition Assistance, or military medical, or amount of base pay, etc. Incentives are authorized for specific jobs or specific enlistment programs by the Recruiting Command Headquarters for the individual service.

Following are the current enlistment incentives offered by the services. Military benefits will be discussed in later parts of this series. Enlistment Bonus. Probably the best known of all enlistment incentives is the enlistment bonus. Enlistment bonuses are used to try and convince applicants to sign up into jobs that the service needs really bad. The Air Force and Marine Corps offer the fewest enlistment bonuses. In general, the greater the enlistment bonus, the harder time the service is having finding enough qualified applicants who agree to accept the job.

In most cases, this is for one of three reasons: 1. The job has high entry qualifications ASVAB score, criminal history requirements, medical qualifications, etc. The job training is extremely difficult and lots of people wash out. The Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps will usually pay the entire bonus amount lump sum , after arrival at the first permanent duty station, following basic training and job-school usually within 60 days of arrival at the first duty station. College Fund. Bill later. Bill and the amount of the extra funds provided by the service.

Usually but not always , if you accept the college fund, this will decrease the amount of any monetary enlistment bonus you may be entitled to.

Bill for their College Fund Programs. Again, the exact amount offered often depends on the job selected. As with other enlistment incentives, if you were promised the College Fund, you must ensure it is listed on your final active duty enlistment contract or an annex to the contract.

Advanced Enlistment Rank. All of the services offer advanced enlistment rank for recruits with a certain number of college credits, or for participation in other programs, such as Junior ROTC in high school. The Air Force is the only service which offers accelerated promotion for six-year enlistees. The Navy also offers accelerated promotion up to E-4 for individuals who enlist in certain designated enlistment programs Such as the Nuclear Field.

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With the exception of the Air Force six-year enlistee advance rank program, recruits who join with advanced rank are paid the rate of base pay for that advanced rank right from the first day of active duty. However, in most of the services, recruits do not get to actually wear the rank until they graduate from basic training in basic, everyone is treated the same — ie, just lower than whale droppings. For Air Force six-year enlistees, they enlist and go through basic as an E-1 or E-2 if they were qualified, such as college credits and are then promoted to E-3 20 weeks following basic training graduation, or when they graduate technical school job training , whichever occurs first.

Date of Rank as an E-3 is then back-dated to the date of basic training graduation. As with other enlistment incentives, advanced enlistment rank must be included on your enlistment contract. College Loan Repayment Program. In a nutshell, the service will repay all, or a part of a college loan, in exchange for your enlistment. The Army and the Navy are the only active duty services which can offer a guaranteed first duty assignment.

However, since the invasion of Iraq, the Army rarely offers this incentive anymore. When authorized, under the Army Program, you can get a written guarantee in your enlistment contract for your first duty assignment following basic training and job training of course, there must be open positions for your particular job on the base before the Army will give it to you. This option is only available for certain, hard-to-fill Army Jobs. Additionally, the guarantee is only good for 12 months.

Early Retirement from the Guard and Reserves

After that, the Army can move you anywhere it wants. Under the Navy program, you can be guaranteed a first assignment in a designated geographical area. However, under the Navy program, there is a catch — the program is not available to those who sign up with a guaranteed rating job. When you enlist in the National Guard or Reserves, you will know, right from the start, where your drilling unit is located generally within miles or so of where you live.

Buddy Program.

Under this program, two or more individuals of the same sex can enlist together, and — at a minimum — be guaranteed to go through basic training together. If the individuals have the same job, the services can also guarantee that they will go through job training together. Split Option. If something happens to your job training date, it can sometimes take forever for the Guard and Reserves to get another training slot.

When dishing out job training slots, the active duty forces get first crack, and what is left over is offered to the Guard and Reserves. If you attend job training immediately after basic training, you will still be in shape. That means, for the first month or so of job-school, your off-duty time is strictly regimented.

Active Duty Montgomery G.

The choice of whether or not to participate in the program is up to the recruit, and is made after a briefing in basic training. Under the current law, Congress can increase these amounts each year to match inflation. The active duty G. Bill Benefits can be used while on active duty, or after honorable discharge Note: Benefits expire 10 years after discharge. To use MGIB while on active duty, you must serve two continuous years of active duty.

To use MGIB after honorable separation from active duty:. You must have served three continuous years of active duty, unless you were honorably discharged early for one of for one of a very few specific reasons such as medical. You only need two continuous years of active duty if o You first enlisted for two years of active duty, or o You have an obligation to serve four years in the Selected Reserve the 2 X 4 program. You must enter the Selected Reserve within one year of your release from active duty. OR o You were separated honorably early for one of the very specific reasons allowed such as medical.

When used after getting out of the military, the G. Bill pays more.

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When used while on active duty, the G. Bill only pays for the cost of tuition for the course. Because of this, most people do not use the G. Bill qualification, you do not get your money back.