• Types of Military Service

      2nd Lt. Amanda Morgan: The best thing that I’ve gotten out of my experience with the National Guard, and the Military in general, is just the discipline and the responsibility that I’ve learned from it.

      Petty Officer 3rd Class Adrien Cheval: The Coast Guard Reserve offers almost the same benefits and opportunities as the active-duty side of the house. And it allows me to have a full-time profession on the outside.

      Senior Airman Jessica Eastburn: I decided to do reserves so I can still pursue my degree, as well as do the Military at the same time.

      1st Lt. Meridith Fonseca: I think the Reserve is the best of both worlds. You get to have your civilian job and hobbies, and friends and family, and then you get to have your Army family and friends, and your Service. So you get the opportunity to take a break from your civilian job or civilian schooling, and go serve.

      Petty Officer 3rd Class Adrien Cheval: To pilot a very nice Coast Guard boat, to do search and rescue and maritime law enforcement, the fact that I get to be a federal law enforcement officer certainly complements my civilian job. It gives me a different perspective on things, and I have a lot to talk about when I go home or when I go over to a friend’s house, and that sort of thing.

      Capt. Shawn Tulp: The Army Reserve has helped my civilian career in several ways. First of all, the additional training I’ve had for trauma has also made me a better civilian nurse when it comes to taking care of patients in a critical-care setting.

      2nd Lt. Amanda Morgan: I know that it’s definitely brought opportunities to me in my civilian career, in getting part-time jobs or getting positions in my sorority, or getting positions on ROTC that I would like. Whatever it is, it definitely comes out as a civilian as it does in Military.

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      Types of Military Service

      The Military is comprised of 12 Service branches: five Active Duty and seven part-time duty. Part-time duty consists of five Reserve and two Guard branches. Each branch varies greatly in service commitment, location and how its members contribute to the overall mission of protecting our country, though all branches are on the same rank-based pay scale. Knowing the differences between the Services will help you choose which branch fits you best.

      More Info: Types of Military Service FAQs
    • Active Duty (Full Time)

      As the most time-intensive service commitment, Active Duty is similar to working at a full-time civilian job. Active-duty service members are full-time members of the Military, living on base or in military housing and immersed in military culture. After attending boot camp, they are stationed at a base either domestically or overseas. Active-duty terms typically last two to six years. Deployment can last up to a year, but the length may vary depending on a unit's specific mission. 

       

      Reserve (Part Time)

      As the newest type of service, the Reserve was created in the twentieth century to provide and maintain trained units at home while active-duty service members are deployed. Each active-duty branch of the Military has a Reserve component under their command, which is available for active-duty deployment in times of war or national emergency.

      Reservists are part-time service members, allowing them time to pursue a civilian career or college education while simultaneously serving their country. Members of the Reserve attend boot camp and are required to participate in training drills one weekend a month as well as a two-week program each year. Some active-duty service members switch to the Reserve to finish out their service commitment.


      National Guard (Part Time)

      The National Guard consists of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. The Guard’s main focus is on homeland security and humanitarian relief. In addition to training drills one weekend a month and two full weeks per year, National Guard units assist communities in their state during emergencies like storms, floods, fires and other natural disasters.

      The two Guard branches are unique in that they are primarily controlled at a state level, comprised of 54 separate organizations: one for each of the 50 states, U.S.-owned territories and the District of Columbia. Each group goes by its state name (for example, the New York National Guard) and reports to that state’s governor. This organization goes back to the founding of the Guard, which began as the militias created by each state during the Revolutionary era.

      During times of conflict, the president can federalize the National Guard and its service members can be deployed overseas. National Guard service members deployed overseas may see combat, but are also assigned noncombat humanitarian tasks, such as building schools and hospitals, training local peacekeepers and other community-building projects.

  • Service Branches Compared

     

    Full Time i Full-time members of the Military live on base or in military housing and are immersed in military culture.

     

    Part Time i Part-time service members train one weekend a month and two weeks a year, which means they can pursue a civilian career or college.

     
    Army Army

    As the oldest branch of the U.S. Military, the Army protects the security of the United States and its resources.

      Army Reserve

    The Army Reserve trains part time near home until needed, and members deploy alongside the Army.

    Army National Guard

    Army National Guard members deploy with the Army on a part-time basis, with a special focus on homeland security and relief programs.

    Marine Corps Marine Corps

    The Marine Corps is often first on the ground in combat situations.

      Marine Corps Reserve

    Marine Corps reservists train domestically until needed, then deploy with the rest of the Corps.

     
    Navy Navy

    The Navy defends the right to travel and trade freely on the world's oceans and protects national interests overseas.

      Navy Reserve

    The Navy Reserve trains service members close to home until they are needed in action.

     
    Air Force Air Force

    The U.S. Air Force protects American interests at home and abroad with a focus on air power.

      Air Force Reserve

    The Air Force Reserve gives service members the opportunity to train and serve on a part-time basis, as needed.

    Air National Guard

    The Air National Guard trains part time to assist in domestic disasters and international conflicts.

    Coast Guard Coast Guard

    The Coast Guard protects America's waterways and deploys with the Navy during wartime.

      Coast Guard Reserve

    The Coast Guard Reserve offers a part-time service opportunity for service members to train near home.

     
  • Service Branches Compared

    Army

    Full Time i Full-time members of the Military live on base or in military housing and are immersed in military culture.

    Army

    As the oldest branch of the U.S. Military, the Army protects the security of the United States and its resources.

    Part Time i Part-time service members train one weekend a month and two weeks a year, which means they can pursue a civilian career or college.

    Army Reserve

    The Army Reserve trains part time near home until needed, and members deploy alongside the Army.

    Army National Guard

    Army National Guard members deploy with the Army on a part-time basis, with a special focus on homeland security and relief programs.

    Marine Corps

    Full Time i Full-time members of the Military live on base or in military housing and are immersed in military culture.

    Marine Corps

    The Marine Corps is often first on the ground in combat situations.

    Part Time i Part-time service members train one weekend a month and two weeks a year, which means they can pursue a civilian career or college.

    Marine Corps Reserve

    Marine Corps reservists train domestically until needed, then deploy with the rest of the Corps.

    Navy

    Full Time i Full-time members of the Military live on base or in military housing and are immersed in military culture.

    Navy

    The Navy defends the right to travel and trade freely on the world's oceans and protects national interests overseas.

    Part Time i Part-time service members train one weekend a month and two weeks a year, which means they can pursue a civilian career or college.

    Navy Reserve

    The Navy Reserve trains service members close to home until they are needed in action.

    Air Force

    Full Time i Full-time members of the Military live on base or in military housing and are immersed in military culture.

    Air Force

    The U.S. Air Force protects American interests at home and abroad with a focus on air power.

    Part Time i Part-time service members train one weekend a month and two weeks a year, which means they can pursue a civilian career or college.

    Air Force Reserve

    The Air Force Reserve gives service members the opportunity to train and serve on a part-time basis, as needed.

    Air National Guard

    The Air National Guard trains part time to assist in domestic disasters and international conflicts.

    Coast Guard

    Full Time i Full-time members of the Military live on base or in military housing and are immersed in military culture.

    Coast Guard

    The Coast Guard protects America's waterways and deploys with the Navy during wartime.

    Part Time i Part-time service members train one weekend a month and two weeks a year, which means they can pursue a civilian career or college.

    Coast Guard Reserve

    The Coast Guard Reserve offers a part-time service opportunity for service members to train near home.

    • Resources

      Contact a Recruiter

      Schedule a meeting with a recruiter and learn what to expect from your visit.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      View answers to commonly asked questions about the Military.

      The Next Step: Training

      The Next Step: Training

      Once someone has committed to serving in the Military, it's time for them to get the training they need to succeed.