The Army National Guard is somewhat like a part-time version of active duty in the Army: recruits still go through basic training, but they are allowed to maintain a civilian career and to live a mostly civilian lifestyle. Guard members only perform full-time military duties during times of war. As with any part-time job, there are pros and cons to joining the Guard.

Pay and Benefits

The National Guard offers enlisted men and women a signing bonus and compensations for every day that they work. In addition, the Guard can help enlisted members acquire their GED, pay for college, or get started on a civilian career. For example, "Drive the Guard" is a program that builds valuable experience for a civilian trucking career.


The extra financial security that the National Guard provides comes at the price of unlimited freedom and flexibility, as Guard members will spend at least one weekend a month in peacetime doing Guard duties, and in times of war they may be put into active duty in war zones far from home. Unlike a civilian part-time job, the National Guard requires the signing of a binding contract, and so those who sign up can't simply quit or leave for a vacation.

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As is true of all military careers, time in the National Guard brings with it the risk of serious physical injury, disfigurement, or death, especially during wartime. For those with families, becoming a part-time soldier is a serious decision that brings with it many grave responsibilities related to personal sacrifice.