What is the Air Force Reserve and how does it work?
The Air Force Reserve is a component of the Regular Air Force. It includes most of the same job specialties, and its members wear the same uniforms, hold the same ranks, and share a common culture. However, Air Force Reserve members serve on a part-time basis rather than full-time. True, this means on the one hand, Reservists earn less money and have fewer benefits than Active Duty, but on the other, they are able to stay in their local communities (aren't required to move in order to serve), and they have a lot more free time to pursue college or other educational and civilian opportunities.
In spite of only serving an average of 39 days per year, Reserve members are entitled to an impressive number of benefits in exchange for their service.
A major benefit is GI Bill money to help pay for college or trade school, along with use of base facilities, low-cost life insurance, dental insurance, and ultimately a full-pension retirement at age 60. There are training opportunities (being paid while you train), chances for travel, and the satisfaction of service to country; but all done on the side, so as not to interfere too much with one's civilian interests.
It's really the best of both worlds (military and civilian) for those who don't need full-time employment, but can benefit from an additional paycheck and many other advantages serving only part-time.
Iím new to the armed forces. How do I join the Air Force Reserve?
We can answer some general questions here, but the first step would be to contact an Air Force Reserve Recruiting Advisor by calling 800-257-1212. He or she will run through some qualifying questions, then if all good, get you in touch with a Reserve Recruiter in your area.
The AF Reserve Recruiter will meet with you to start paperwork and schedule you for the aptitude test (ASVAB) and a medical check up (MEPS physical). There is other paperwork, all of which takes one to two months to complete, at which time you select the specialty you want to be trained in, you get scheduled for AF Basic Training and Technical Training, then you sign the contract and take the oath.
It's usually three to six months from the time you swear-in to the time you go to Basic and Tech School. Basic is eight weeks, and Tech School could be anywhere from five weeks to a year, depending on the job you select.
After you graduate from Tech School, you come back home and start training at the Reserve Unit you are assigned to (within a reasonable commute of where you live). Training is then only one weekend a month, and two weeks once a year. This continues for the rest of your six-year commitment.
After the six years, you are no longer expected to attend monthly and yearly training, but for two more years you could still be activated by the President.
At the end of your six years of participation, if you find you've enjoyed serving in the Reserve, you could reenlist for anywhere from two to six years, and keep reenlisting until you have completed at least 20 good years, at which time you would be eligible for retirement.
Whatís the time sequence for initial enlistment?
Initial paperwork takes from one to two months, depending on how available you are to fill out forms, and get the test and physical completed.
Once you are sworn in, it's usually three to six months before you actually go to AF Basic Training and Technical Training.
Basic Training is eight weeks, and Tech School is from 5-1/2 weeks to a year, depending on the job you have selected.
Once you graduate from Tech School, you come back home and start drilling one weekend a month and two weeks a year at yourReserve unit.
What are the participation requirements for a Reservist?
An Air Force Reservist normally participates one weekend per month and two weeks once per year. The weekend duty is called Inactive Duty For Training (IDT) and the two weeks per year are called Annual Tour (AT). Reservists must also be prepared to be deployed by Presidential authority as occasion requires. These activations are infrequent for most members. Chances of deployment depend on one's AF specialty and current needs of the Air Force.
How many years will I have to serve?
Your initial military service obligation will be for six years of participation (one weekend a month and two weeks once a year), plus two years of inactive status (you are no longer expected to attend drills, but you could still be activated by the President). Subsequent enlistments can be from two to six years.
How often does the Air Force Reserve deploy?
Deployment depends on your AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code), the unit you're assigned to, and the needs of the Air Force at any given time.
Generally there is no set deployment tempo for the Reserve. If you get deployed once in six years, that would be typical, but it could be more than that. It isn't unusual to not be deployed at all.
Most likely your mission will be of a logistical or support nature. However, there are some specialties, such as Security Forces, that are more combat-oriented; and all AF Reserve members have to be willing to bear arms as circumstances require: for example, if you were assigned to an AF installation that came under attack.
How can I obtain copies of my military records
Individual military departments, including the Air Force Reserve, do not maintain files or records pertaining to individuals no longer serving. When an individual is separated from military service, his/her Field Personnel File (containing all military and health records) is forwarded for storage at the National Personnel Records Center. The Records Center is under the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States Government. Request for these records can be made through your local Veteran's Administration Office, or you could try the website: http://vetrecs.archives.gov.
National Personnel Record Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St Louis, MO 63132
How do I contact my local recruiter?
We'll be happy to provide local recruiter contact information, however we are required to first document your eligibility. Please give us a call at 800-257-1212 so we can run through some qualifying questions, then if all good, we'll get you in touch with the Reserve Recruiter for your area.
What will a recruiter do to help me join the Air Force Reserve?
The recruiter is the focal point for all of your processing into the Air Force Reserve. He or she will meet with you to determine your qualifications. You will be asked questions regarding your medical background, law infractions, drug use, education, family status and other issues relating to eligibility. It is imperative that you provide accurate and complete answers for efficient and effective processing. The recruiter will also assist you with paperwork, and eventually the selection of a particular AF specialty and unit of assignment. He/she will advise you on entitlements and benefits.
Your recruiter cannot help you resolve legal issues or influence attorneys, law enforcement agencies, or judicial authorities. They cannot represent you in establishing residency or U.S. citizenship. They also cannot assist you with completing educational requirements or studying for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). They cannot prescribe a weight-loss or physical fitness program. Finally, they cannot assist with corrections of military records.
What are the ranks in the Air Force Reserve?
The Air Force Reserve ranks are split into two tiers: Officer and Enlisted, with different grade designations. Commissioned Officers are college graduates who have demonstrated the ability to lead/command in the Air Force Reserve. Enlisted grades include Junior Enlisted and Non-commissioned Officers. Non-commissioned Officers also lead/manage under the direction of senior NCOs and Commissioned Officers.
The grades are:
Second Lieutenant (0-1)
First Lieutenant (0-2)
Lieutenant Colonel (0-5)
Brigadier General (0-7)
Major General (0-8)
Lieutenant General (0-9)
Airman Basic (E-1)
Airman First Class (E-3)
Senior Airman (E-4)
Staff Sergeant (E-5)
Technical Sergeant (E-6)
Master Sergeant (E-7)
Senior Master Sergeant (E-8)
Chief Master Sergeant (E-9)
Whatís the difference between Officer and Enlisted?
Commissioned Officers have to have at least a bachelorís degree to apply, and they go through a more demanding and competitive qualification process, including approval by Congress. They're assignment is focused on leadership and administration. They are like top management in the corporate world. Because they have more responsibility, they have more authority and higher pay. They have more administrative headaches and more social demands, but they enjoy higher status and more privileges in the overall chain of command.
Enlisted members are not required to have as much previous education, although many do have college degrees. The Enlisted focus more on technical aspects of the work, and are therefore trained in one of many Air Force specialties. Enlisted members can rise to become Non-commissioned officers, which puts them in positions comparable to middle management in a corporation. They earn somewhat less pay and have fewer privileges than COs, but they carry great responsibilities and form, as it were, the backbone of the Air Force, being greater in numbers and closer to daily operations; but they always function under the direction of the Commissioned Officer Corps.
In many instances, young men and women join the Enlisted ranks, use the GI Bill and other benefits to help them get their college degrees, apply for and get selected for Officer Training School, and finish their Air Force careers as commissioned officers.
Will I have to move to serve at a specific base?
The AF Reserve does not require you to move. You will be assigned to a Reserve Unitthat you choose. If for personal reasons you need to move at a later date, you can transfer to another Reserve Unit.
How do I secure a position at an Air Force Reserve unit?
If you are new to the Air Force Reserve, your Recruiter will help you select an Air Force Specialty as you complete your initial processing. If you are already a participating Air Force Reserve member, you will need to contact the Customer Service Branch of your Reserve Military Personnel Flight (MPF).
How do I find out if a specific job is available at my local Reserve Unit?
As AFRC Advisors, we work at a national desk, and don't have access to local job vacancy information. Your local Reserve Recruiter would be able to tell you about specific jobs, especially once he or she has your aptitude scores and physical profile.
To get your local recruiter's contact information, please give us a call at 800-257-1212 so we can run through some qualifying questions, then if all good, we'll get you in touch with the recruiter for your area.
Can I get a full-time job with the Air Force Reserve?
The great majority of jobs in the Air Force Reserve are part-time (one weekend a month and two weeks a year); however there are a small number of full-time folks who provide continuity for our program between weekend drills.
These full-time positions come open from time to time, and after you are fully trained and established in your Reserve unit, you may be in a position to apply for one of those jobs as they come open.
On occasion, a full-time position is vacant that the Wing has not been able to fill from within, and on such occasions, new enlistees in the Reserve are able to fill them.
Where will I be assigned (stationed)?
The Air Force Reserve has units operating in locations across the United States and around the world. In most cases, reservists are assigned within commuting distance of their home. However, depending upon the availability of jobs and other factors, you may have an assignment farther away than the nearest Air Force Reserve unit.
Do I always have to participate on weekends?
No. Reserve members can participate in two ways; as a Traditional Reservist and as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA). Traditional Reservists participate one weekend per month, and two weeks per year. IMAs have a more flexible schedule, but serve approximately the same amount of time. In most cases, to become an IMA, they must already be trained in an Air Force Specialty.
What is the Officer Accessions process like?
You have to be a U.S. citizen and have at least a bachelor's degree. To be practical, you would need to apply before you turn 34 because the process takes the better part of a year, and in most cases you have to be commissioned before you turn 35.
There also needs to be a vacant position available. If there is, the Officer Recruiter will contact the applicable commander with your information (resume, etc.) and see if he/she is willing to sponsor you for that position. If so, you and your Recruiter will put a package together and submit it to a Board, which meets twice a year. If the Board selects your package, it is sent through several levels of review, including Congress, and if all sign off, you are scheduled for OTS (Officer Training School). OTS is 12 weeks at Maxwell AFB, AL.
Shorter Officer schools are conducted for those who receive Direct Commissions (Medical Professionals, Chaplains and Attorneys).
What is the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Program?
The AGR program gives reserve members the opportunity to serve a four-year active duty tour in a specified capacity. To be eligible, members must:
Be a member of the Selected Reserve for a minimum of one year
Possess the required Air Force Specialty Code
Hold the appropriate military grade
Have at least four years of military retainability
Meet physical as well as other job requirements
What is the Air Reserve Technician Program?
The Air Reserve Technician (ART) program offers full-time employment with a reserve unit. This is a dual-duty position involving both Civil Service employment and Reserve Enlistment. You must meet all qualifications for both organizations. Your Air Force Reserve recruiter will have more information.
If I take Junior ROTC, will I earn my rank?
JROTC in High School can help you earn entry level rank; the criteria is as follows:
One year completed JROTC = No Stripes (E-1/Airman Basic)
Two years with JROTC Commander letter = 1 Stripe (E-2/Airman)
Three or more years completed JROTC and commanders recommendation or certificate = 2 Stripes (E-3/Airman 1st Class)
Note: E-3 is the maximum rank that can be earned for initial enlistment.
Can I see my family while at basic training and technical school?
An Air Force Reserve job is similar to other jobs: people work normal hours, allowing for short visits and breaks, and go home at the end of the day. However, during Basic Training and Technical School, visitation is limited due to mandatory schedules.
Basic Training Visitation:
Graduation week is the ONLY time basic trainees are allowed to have visitors. Visitation will be Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Please see the following web site for exact visitation times: http://www.lackland.af.mil
You are required to sign in and request visitation at the times indicated on the schedule.
Air[men] may NOT be available for visitation during all visiting hours due to training requirements. Every effort will be made to allow you to spend the maximum allowable time together. However, training requirements must always take precedence. Also, Base Liberty and Town Passes are privileges that must be EARNED by airmen and can be denied AT ANY TIME for disciplinary reasons. We appreciate your understanding of the importance of this.
Technical Training School Visitation:
Visitation while students are attending Technical Training School is not limited as far as the friends and family visiting.
The following guidelines do pertain to the first few weeks:
For the first two weeks, Airmen cannot leave base.
During weeks three and four, Airmen can go off base with visitors, but they must be in uniform.
After week four Airman are not required to wear uniforms off duty and can visit during any off-duty period.
Note: All visitations are based on Airmen progressing normally with their training.
Once you are stationed at your base it is very much like any other job. Visitors are not normally restricted, but as with any workers, Airmen have priority work and required duty hours.