National Guard? Reserves? What’s the Difference?

National Guard vs Reserves

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I get asked many questions about the National Guard, but the one I hear the most frequently is “What is the difference between the National Guard and Reserves?”. There are many similarities, but one major difference.

The National Guard reports to both the state government and the federal government.  Both the governor of the state and the President of the United States can call Guardsmen to active duty, but the President will need approval from the state governor first – don’t think your governor will say no though, it seems they always say yes!  They are also frequently called up to help with domestic emergencies and natural disasters.

The National Guard’s budget is comprised of money from both the state and the federal government.  The National Guard is the oldest branch of the U.S. military, and can be traced back as far as 1636.  During World War II, National Guard units were among the first to deploy – and this means, yes, the National Guard DOES deploy.  The theory is that the National Guard has drill one weekend a month and two weeks a year, but don’t be fooled by this great advertising campaign.  Clark is in a “pre-deployment” cycle and consequently has drill two weekends a month sometimes and will be gone three weeks one month in the fall and another full week the following month.  And don’t forget about that yearlong deployment the commercials fail to mention.

The Reserves only report to the federal government, and consequently are only funded by the federal government.  They will not be called up to assist with state emergencies, unlike the National Guard.  The Army Reserves were founded in 1908 to provide a reserve of medical officers to the Army – but today they are comprised of a variety of soldiers, not just medical officers.  The Reserves also deploy, and I would imagine their “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” is probably under-exaggerated in the same sense that the National Guard is.

The men and women in the National Guard and in the Reserves attend Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) alongside active duty soldiers.  They will deploy together and fight side by side, so it is essential that they are trained together.  Additionally, there are health care options available to National Guard and Reserve soldiers.  There is a great publication put out by Tricare that provides a detailed summary of the available options.  The publication is available if you want to learn more.

In a future article I will go more in depth about what makes the National Guard unique, but I know you can’t wait!  Married To The Army has a great summary on the differences between the National Guard and Active Duty . Tune in next month for more answers to your National Guard questions.  In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions that I can help with.

Related posts:

  1. Joining the Army National Guard
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2 Responses to “National Guard? Reserves? What’s the Difference?”

  1. stephanie says:

    This is an excellent post. Not a lot of people understand the differences between the two and just assume that the Reserves and the Guard are the same.

    • Danielle says:

      They are so similar it is easy to get them confused, but that one detail about who they report to makes them totally different despite their differences.

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