How Long Will He Be Home?

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I know one common question is how long will my soldier be home before he deploys again?  I wish I had the answer to that million dollar question, I sadly do not.  I have asked around how long National Guard soldiers are home before they deploy again and I got responses anywhere from 6 months to 5 years.  From what I can understand, the goal is to have all National Guard soldiers home for four years, and Reserves home for five years, for every year that they were deployed.  Now, please don’t jump down my throat saying that you know someone who was only home for 6 months, because there are instances where this happens, and keep reading, I will get there.  One important thing to know though, is that the Department of the Defense (DoD) is working to extend the guidelines on the time home between deployments, known as dwell time.

The new policy that the DoD is trying to implement will require the Secretary of Defense to approve deployments that are longer than 400 days, or unit deployments with less than 48 months of dwell time – did you read that?  48 MONTHS of dwell time “guaranteed”!  That is four glorious years.  But please note that I put guaranteed in quotes.  I am positive that there will be exceptions to this, especially for soldiers that change units since this dwell time is being defined as per unit. There are plenty of articles on that discuss the Guard’s dwell time.  One reason for this potential policy change is that it is very hard for civilian employers to hold positions for soldiers when they are gone every other year on a deployment.

One important thing to keep in mind is that soldiers can volunteer, or be volun-told, to redeploy before their dwell time is up.  I don’t believe that anyone will be told they MUST volunteer, but frequently circumstances make soldiers feel that they don’t have another option.  For example, I have a friend whose husband was deployed for fifteen months, he was home for 6 months before deploying again.  His job requires three man teams, and the other two men he had been training with volunteered to go on another deployment so he felt he had to deploy with them instead of leaving his team stranded.  He had a pretty good idea that he would be deploying in a year with his unit regardless, so he volunteered to go with another state’s Guard unit so he could be with his team.  He was not told to go, but under the circumstances he felt he had to go to be fair to his team.  If you read the Army creed you can learn some of the values of the Army – always place the mission first, never quit, never leave a fallen soldier behind, and always stand ready to deploy.  Most soldiers live and breathe these words, and it has an impact on all of the decisions they make.

The short answer is that you will not know how long your soldier will deploy.  Some jobs are higher priority for deployments, and some states have larger needs to keep soldiers at home.  Keep your fingers crossed that the DoD is able to pass new policies to help keep the Guard soldiers home longer between deployments.  If they are able to do so it will provide assurance to their civilian employers that they should be hiring soldiers without hesitation.

Related posts:

  1. National Guard? Reserves? What’s the Difference?
  2. Living with PTSD and TBI: Welcome Home
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