Learn While You Serve

Student Study GroupFrom the clothes we wear to the food we eat to the things we do, we make choices all day, every day. Most of the time, they don’t impact the course of life. White shirt or blue? Paper or plastic? Delivery or carryout? Frankly, many of these choices don’t matter much in the scheme of things.

Conversely, there are points in our lives when the decisions we make will inform every moment of the rest of our lives. Like what to do after high school.

For many, that decision comes down to the military or college. But it doesn’t have to. The Army National Guard makes it possible to do both concurrently. You’ll be the better for it, too, because rather than conflicting with each other, college and the Army National Guard augment one another, resulting in a much stronger you. Consider this: 

  • You’ll get a degree and a degree of experience – A quick scan of job postings reveals that many positions require both a college degree and some kind of experience. Clearly, your time at college will be spent earning your degree. Your Guard training will consist of career training (i.e., experience) in one of 200 career fields. And whether it’s directly related to your eventual degree, any Human Resources executive looking at your resume will know that in addition to your degree, you have a degree of experience as well.
  • Character matters – With the trends of transparency and corporate citizenship, having both a college degree and Guard service on your resume says a lot about your character. It says that you have the wherewithal to stick with two significant challenges at the same time. It says that you care about your country and your place in it. It says that you have integrity, honor, loyalty, and commitment. All are qualities any company would be pleased to be transparent about.
  • Time to cash in – It’s been well documented that college graduates earn more money than those who do not attend college. In fact, those who get their bachelor’s degree earn nearly $1 million more over a lifetime according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Guard can help you toward that in two ways: First, the Army National Guard’s generous compensation and education benefits package make college a lot more affordable while allowing you enough time to tend to your studies. In fact, depending on your service commitment and the state you live in, the Guard could pay for 100 percent of your education. Second, combine the leadership qualities developed in the Guard with a college education and you could be darn near unstoppable in your civilian career.

By joining the Army National Guard and going to school at the same time, you get the best of both worlds, the honor earned through service to your country and the respect gained by earning your degree.

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Five Ways to Expand Your Horizons in the Army National Guard

Soldiers working on a tank treadThere’s a concept we call relational experience. It means that if you have a current skill, then it will likely translate well into another similar, or related, specialty.

For example, think of a fork and a spoon. If you know how to eat with a fork, it’s not going to take much to learn how to use a spoon. In contrast, learning chopsticks is very possible, but more complicated. Clearly, this is an over-simplification, but an apt one to illustrate how you can use the skills you have right now (a fork) to gain relational experience and position flexibility by training in the Army National Guard for a similar position (a spoon).

Check out how you can put your fork to use learning how to use these spoons:

  • Your Fork: Mechanics. Our Spoon: Really Cool Vehicles. – If you have been fixing the tractor on the family farm since you were knee high to a grasshopper or tooling around on a car engine ever since you can remember; if you are the one that everyone in the neighborhood seems to come to when they can’t get their lawnmowers started in the spring, then we’d like you to try your hand at somewhat more exotic fare. Like tanks and attack helicopters, and really, really big trucks.
  • Your Fork: Hunting. Our Spoon: Firearms. – As a fledgling Nation, every American family needed at least one serviceable firearm to provide food for the table. Nowadays, many carry on that tradition as hunters. Firearms are as much a part of our national heritage as apple pie and baseball. There’s even an amendment in our Constitution about it. And outdoors enthusiasts are usually very well versed in the proper care and maintenance of their firearms. The Guard can help these enthusiasts spread their wings a bit to include automatic weapons, pistols, and high-powered rifles.
  • Your Fork: Computer/IT. Our Spoon: Advanced Communications Networks. – Are you the type who can do more with a smartphone than most people can do with a powerful desktop workstation? Then the Guard can help you expand those skills. The communications networks of the National Guard rely on satellites, microwaves, and multichannel systems to work properly. Suffice it to say, to maintain clear communications, the Guard needs some technologically savvy individuals to keep the signals going through.
  • Your Fork: Video Games. Our Spoon: Unmanned Aerial Aircraft. – Yeah, we said it. Now you can tell your parents or significant other that playing video games is building marketable skills for the future. But not just any video games. The Guard is interested in gamers who can pilot unmanned drone aircraft.
  • Your Fork: Continuous Track Construction Equipment. Our Spoon: Heavy Metal. – Does your “track list” include a backhoe or bulldozer? Do you regularly give others a lift with a crane or front loader? Ever wish your machines moved a little faster, with a more aggressive sense of purpose? The Guard has your answer: 60 tons of thundering fury known as the M1 Abrams Tank.

This list is far from exhaustive. Take a minute to consider the things you like to do and the things you do well. Break down the skills it takes to perform those tasks and compare them to the requirements for specific positions on the National Guard job board.

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The One Thing Better Than a Paycheck

Here’s a quick question: If you enlisted in the Army National Guard today, what do you think you would remember ten years from now: your first National Guard paycheck or the grateful face of the first person you save from injury or death?

Guard Member Saving a Child

Better than a paycheck.

Easy answer, isn’t it? The truth is, the monetary rewards of the Army National Guard can make a big difference in your life, but the rewards you get from serving others in critical times are far beyond anything you can imagine.

As a Soldier serving part-time in the Army National Guard, you can be called upon to serve a wide variety of people. They may be people in your own community or from your state who are threatened by a natural disaster. They may even be freedom-loving people of a foreign nation who need a helping hand from America.

Just in the past year alone, proud Soldiers of the Army National Guard have made a monumental difference in the lives of thousands of people: 

  • When tornadoes devastated Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., the Army National Guard arrived in full force to restore water and electricity to thankful residents, clean up debris from demolished buildings, and assist local authorities in security, logistics, and air support.
  • When floods overcame States along the Missouri River, nearly 5,000 members of the Army National Guard responded to fill sandbags, patrol levies, and assist local authorities in whatever way they could. There’s really no way to calculate how much personal property was saved because of the National Guard, but residents of eight States saw the Guard’s work in action.
  • When severe wildfires broke out in the Southwest, the National Guard was on the scene using specialized equipment to help control the fires, protect personal property, and save lives.
  • When Hurricane Irene slammed the East Coast, the Army National Guard was activated in 14 States and the District of Columbia to patrol the streets and rescue those who decided not to evacuate.
  • When the United States officially concluded military operations in Iraq, the Army National Guard were some of the last Soldiers to cross the border into Kuwait, bringing nine years of honorable service to the citizens of Iraq and the United States of America to a close.

Tens of thousands of people benefited from the service of the Army National Guard in just those events, and those events are only a snapshot of what the Army National Guard does every year. The number of lives touched, the number of thanks offered, and the number of grateful hearts can’t even be counted.

Yes, in the Army National Guard you will earn a paycheck. You can earn money to help pay for college. You will serve part-time and train in skills that will make you a better employee and a more productive person.

But that’s not what you’ll remember when you look back at your time in the Guard. What you’ll remember are the faces of those who looked up to you with respect and gratitude, because you were there when they needed you most.

Check out all of the available opportunities on the National Guard jobs board.

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