Reentry Requirements for the US Navy

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After an enlisted person has completed his service and returned to civilian life, he sometimes decides that he wants to enlist again. An interested veteran should contact a Navy recruiter to learn about his specific situation. Generally, whether the original service was completed in the Navy or in one of the other armed services (Army, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard), it is often possible to join the Navy, but one must meet certain requirements.

1 Basic requirements

Veterans must pass a Physical Readiness Test.

Regardless of which branch of the service one has previously served, there is an age requirement for those wishing to re-enter the Navy. According to the Navy Recruiting Manual, all veterans “must be able to complete 20 years of military service for retirement by age 55. No waivers will be considered.” For example, if a service member joined the military at age 21, separated at age 25, then at age 30 wished to re-enter the Navy, she would meet the age requirement because she has already served four years and would be able to serve another 16 years and thus complete a 20-year career before she reached her 55th birthday. Additionally, all veterans must meet reenlistment code requirements, noted on their Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (form DD-214), and everyone must also pass a Navy Physical Readiness Test.

2 Navy Veterans (NAVETs)

Navy veterans must enlist in undermanned ratings.

According to the Navy Recruiting Manual, NAVETs “shall only be enlisted in undermanned rates and ratings.” Additionally, a NAVET’s paygrade at previous discharge determines which requirements he must meet. For example, an E-2 must have “two years or less of prior service and no more than six years broken service,” whereas an E-5 “cannot have more than five years broken service” without obtaining a waiver and “must have no more than 12 years of prior service.” In some cases, a NAVET must re-take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and obtain a minimum score. Female NAVETs require approval prior to enlisting because of the “limited number of billets and at sea opportunities.” As with the original enlistment, re-entry to the Navy will require a contract with a certain number of years based on the specific individual’s situation.

3 Other Service Veterans (OSVETs)

Since some jobs in the other military branches are not available in the Navy, other service veterans (OSVETs) “must qualify for a rating” that the Navy lists, according to the Navy Recruiting Manual. As with the NAVETs, an OSVET’s prior enlisted paygrade determines which requirements he must meet, such as how many years of prior service and how many years of broken service he can have. OSVETs also must be “High School Diploma Graduates (HSDG) or High School Graduates (HSG),” although it is possible to obtain a waiver under some circumstances. Generally, honorably discharged OSVETs who are able to enlist in the Navy will enter at one paygrade lower than the one held at discharge, but not lower than E-3. OSVETs also must enlist for a period of at least four years. Female OSVETs, like female NAVETs, must obtain approval before being permitted to enlist.

Dorothy Martin holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration. She is a U.S. Navy veteran who has been published by "Family," the magazine for military families, in nonfiction and has also written many fiction pieces.