When deciding to leave active duty, every member must decide their next step. This will include a series of emails and possibly phone calls from in-service recruiters. These recruiters are trying to persuade you to join the National Guard or Reserves. They will dazzle you with educational benefits, medical benefits and even some bonuses. Once you sound convinced that the Guard or Reserves will help your transition, the recruiter will then try to help find a job at a unit for you. Ultimately, every unit hires their own members, so you will probably have to interview for each position. Before you agree to an interview, do you know what type of job it is? The three common acronyms you will hear are ART, AGR and TR. To help you decide which is best for you and your family, I will give a brief description of each.
ART (Air Force Reserve Technician)
An ART is an Air Force Reserve Technician. As an ART, you would be a dual status. A dual status is when you are considered both a civilian employee and military member. During the week, you would work a typical 40 hour week for your unit as a government service employee. You would also have to attend your typical one weekend a month and two weeks a year for Reserve/National Guard duty. This is when you would be under a military status. As an ART, you’ll receive a good salary, training and education, the opportunity to travel, and excellent benefits e.g. vacation and sick leave, federal holidays, potential dual retirement annuities, medical, insurance etc.. There can also be special bonuses that just apply to ART positions. As an ART, you are a full time employee working for your unit as well as a military member of that unit. Keep in mind you only receive a fraction of credit towards retirement during your civilian and military status. Since you are only required to work a certain number of hours, you only receive retirement credit for those hours, which is unlike active duty in which you receive a day for every day you are on active duty status.
AGR (Active Guard/Reserve Position)
An AGR position is an Active Guard/Reserve Position. An AGR position is a full time military position. An AGR is similar to an ART because they are both full time jobs. They differ because an AGR position places you on active duty orders, which makes you a full time active duty member during this tour. As an AGR, you receive all the same benefits as active duty to include receiving full retirement if you make your full 20 years of service during this time.
TR (Traditional Reservist)
The final position is the TR position. This is a Traditional Reservist (or National Guard). The Traditional Reserve/Guard position is what you typically hear about. These are the jobs that require you to only serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year. This allows the member to have a civilian career while also maintaining a position within the Guard or Reserve. As a TR, you will still receive some benefits and will still be required to maintain training in whatever career field you are in.
It is a good idea to decide whether you would like to continue to be full time military or part time before deciding on a specific unit and job. This will help ensure that the job you are applying for also fits the lifestyle you are trying to meet. The Veterans Affairs also has some good resources to help decide what is the next best step for you and your family. The in-service recruiters are also a good resource for questions on specific jobs and their requirements. Transitioning out of the military back to civilian life has a great deal of challenges. Becoming a member of the Guard or Reserve can help ease this transition, but it is also important to understand exactly what the required commitment is to the unit.
Dave Blankenstein served in the US Air Force for 12 years as a C-17 pilot. He was stationed at MacDill AFB, FL, Vance AFB, OK, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, Joint Base Charleston, SC and Altus AFB, OK. Dave attended undergraduate pilot training at Vance, then went to C-17 initial training and ultimately spent the reminder of his time in the military as a C-17 pilot. His military career culminated as a C-17 evaluator at the only C-17 formal training unit in the world. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and a master’s degree in Aeronautical Science with a concentration in Aviation Safety Science.