Extreme Networking in the National Guard

Two young men and a young woman in civilian clothes“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” How many times have you heard that little gem? In terms of getting ahead in your career, it’s a concept that is considered the single most important self-marketing technique available. It’s thought so vitally important, in fact, that it earned its own one-word definition in the greater lexicon of our society: networking.

Don’t take our word for it. Search the Internet and you’ll see millions upon millions of results for networking tips, training, and events. Individuals, companies, universities, and entire industries pay good money to attend or hold networking events or conferences. They’ll call them all sorts of things, too: meet and greets, seminars, career fairs, retreats, and trade shows. What it boils down to is a place to meet other people interested in similar things.

While the contacts developed through these venues are valuable, the long-term, tangible benefits are hit or miss. Unfortunately, it often seems that all anyone is interested in at these events is who can collect the most phone numbers or email addresses.

Where these gatherings fail is that true networking needs a platform that allows for time to build trusted relationships that eventually develop into a robust sphere of influence. Service in the Army National Guard provides just such a platform because it creates the requisite common ground wholly unrelated to sales volume, the fiscal quarter, or job opportunity.

Starting with training, National Guard members join an exclusive group made up of those willing and able to serve their community, state, and nation. Once through Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training, members serve together at least one weekend a month and two weeks a year. They train, serve, and watch each other’s backs. They respond together when called upon by the governor or president. New recruits keep things fresh, while long-termers help the new team members learn the ropes. These are the ties that bind because almost nowhere else in civilian life will you find this kind of camaraderie.

And most of the time, contact information will be exchanged. Guard members, almost invariably, can say, “I know someone who can help you with that.”

So if paying to gather together with a bunch of strangers is called networking, it’s fair to call serving alongside men and women in the National Guard who have become like family – and enjoying all the benefits of service as well – extreme networking.

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Five Fringe Benefits for National Guard Members

A Soldier with his wife and childUsually the benefits of a job are fairly straightforward: if you do this, you’ll get that. No matter for whom you do “this,” “that” will likely be similar. That’s why fringe benefits are so important. Think about it: CEOs go with the best stock options, salespeople go with the nicest company car, and food servers go with restaurants that provide an employee meal. These little extras can often be the difference between a good situation and a great one.

The Army National Guard is no different. Sure the Guard provides terrific education benefits and career training, and requires only part-time service. That’s good. Here’s what makes the Guard great: 

  1. The Guard has you covered. Affordable health and life insurance coverage, that is. There are civilian jobs that don’t offer that. As a Guard member, you have access to affordable health care coverage. This privilege is extended to your dependents as well. In addition to health coverage, Guard members are eligible for low-cost life insurance coverage. And that’s up to $400,000 covered. How’s that sound?
  2. The pride of home ownership. The Department of Veterans Affairs is more than world-class health care for Veterans; they also help Guard members secure low-interest loans to purchase a home with no down payment.
  3. $287,803 puts a shine on the golden years. If you are 30 or younger, you are probably sick of hearing that it’s never too soon to think about retirement. However, the Guard goes beyond the advice and provides the tools you need to do it. Complete 20 years of part-time service and at age 60 you could be eligible to receive about $1,653 every month – for a total payout of $287,803.* Pretty nice, huh? And that’s in addition to other retirement benefits you can accumulate through your civilian career.
  4. Base privileges. Go Guard, and you could seriously lower your cost of living. Tax-free, discount shopping is available at a nationwide network of on-base military exchanges (department stores) and commissaries (grocery stores). Plus, Guard members and their families also enjoy on-base lodging, cabins and campsites at a discount; camping and sporting goods for loan or rent; and craft, automotive, and hobby shops that offer tools and space to work on personal projects.
  5. How about a trip to Hawaii? Okay, enough of the responsible-adult stuff, right? If you have a hankering for travel in the United States – whether it’s Mardi Gras, SXSW, or a Broadway play – then the Guard can help you get there. Meals and accommodations are totally on you, but our fly-for-free program enables you to travel via military aircraft, provided space is available on the flight. So get out there and see the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Guam. And, yes, that includes Alaska and Hawaii.

In the Guard, you get paid and trained for part-time service. But as you can see, you’ll get “that” and so much more. Check out all of the perks of Guard service at the National Guard jobs board.

*Payment amounts and terms vary. To discuss retirement in greater detail, contact your local National Guard recruiter.

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The Doctor Is In (The National Guard)

Medical Professionals in the Army National GuardAnd so is the nurse, the dentist, the paramedic, and social worker. It may come as a surprise, but the Army National Guard fields a health care team that could rival that of any health system or private practice. That’s because it’s made up of the same dedicated professionals.

The Guard Medical Corps is built to be versatile in its operations so that its members can serve their community, state, and nation while maintaining their own civilian career. This reality is vitally important to the Army National Guard’s dual mission because a member of the medical team could be ensuring the health and vitality of fellow Soldiers on weekend duty; their neighbor during a community emergency; combat troops suffering from a range of injuries; even deployed to other states or overseas. However, when not actively honoring their part-time Guard commitment, they are able to pursue their civilian dreams.

And although many probably would, the Guard would never ask them to make such a commitment without a primo compensation package. So while the Guard gets a medical team that can operate with equal effectiveness everywhere from the field to fixed hospitals, team members enjoy some of the greatest benefits in the military:

Professional growth – Medical professionals in the National Guard are like real-life action heroes. Of course they hold a very important status in our society as healers, but they add to that the mystique of practicing military medicine, which is decidedly different from any other form of practice. The Guard medical team could be asked to simply provide preventive health care to Soldiers in your unit, or to learn entirely new processes and procedures in a tailgate medicine scenario during a local emergency deployment. In between, there is the opportunity to learn by serving alongside other brilliant and dedicated practitioners.

Work on a commission – Many of the professionals in the Guard Medical Corps serve as commissioned officers. And it’s not just the physicians and nurses as one might expect. Dentists (DMD, DDS), specialists like physician assistants and physical therapists, medical professional administrators, social workers (LISW, LCSW) and clinical psychologists, and others all accept an officer’s commission when joining the Guard. And what this provides depends on the stage of your career. If you’re just starting out, you’re going to develop some serious leadership cred. If you’re closer to the end, this will provide you the opportunity to impart your wisdom to the next generation of gifted practitioners.

Bonuses and loans – The debt accrued by many health care practitioners is significant. The Guard can help with that. Medical professionals in the Guard can receive special pay up to $75,000, the Guard’s healthcare student loan repayment programs can generate up to $240,000, and participants in stipend programs can earn additional payments of more than $2,000 a month.

All that and the world’s best barracks, because at the end of your weekend obligation, summer training, or your response to an emergency, you get to go home to your own bed. To learn more about the opportunities available in the Guard Medical Corps, check out NATIONALGUARD.com’s medical professional pages, then look for openings near you at the National Guard jobs page.

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