By Capt. Monika Comeaux
13th Sustainment Command public affairs
How will you make sure your family has medical coverage, if you plan on leaving the service before you retire? Would you be interested in still benefiting from tuition assistance? Would you like to learn a new skill set and earn a little extra with one weekend a month spent working? If so, you should check into what the Army Reserve and National Guard has to offer for Soldiers who are leaving active duty service in good standing.
The 13th Sustainment Command organized a briefing on Feb. 28 at its Family Readiness Building to inform all interested soldiers within the unit and subordinate units about opportunities and benefits of joining the reserve component.
"Within the 13th (Sustainment Command) and subordinate units, there are over 280 soldiers who will (separate) before Sept. 30," said Master Sgt. Humberto Flores, the command's senior active-duty career counselor. The unit holds briefings every two months and it is also mandatory that soldiers attend a brief about these opportunities, before they separate, said Flores.
The briefing started with some basic facts about the reserve component, which includes the Army Reserves and National Guard. "I am amazed that some people do not know, that when you joined the military, 99 percent of you incurred an eight-year military service obligation," said Master Sgt. Deena Mullins, Reserve Component Career Counselor for III Corps and Fort Hood. If a soldier only fulfilled his or her contractual obligations of let's say three years, he or she still owes five years of the statutory obligation. Soldiers have the option to serve this statutory obligation in the reserve component, earning money and enjoying the benefits or in the Immediate Ready Reserve.
Many of the requirements to join the reserve component are the same as signing up for active duty, such as no age waiver is granted, no waiver is granted for not meeting trainability standards, not meeting education standards or not meeting weight control requirements, said Mullins.
Some of the requirements are different however, she added. Soldiers who reached their retention control point on active duty can still join the reserve component. If a female soldier was chaptered from active duty under due to pregnancy, but still has military service obligation, she can transfer into the reserve component, said Mullins.
Soldiers who join the reserve component can get stabilization for up to 24 months depending on location, can receive service obligation reduction, get an enlistment bonus or military occupational specialty retraining, said Flores. They also can receive educational benefits in the form of tuition assistance, which pays up to 100 percent of tuition costs, with maximum of $250 per semester hour, $133 per quarter hour and with a maximum cap of $4,500 annually. Medical Transitional Healthcare is also offered to all active-duty soldiers that transition to the reserve component, for six months, free of charge, added the career counselor.
"A sergeant with six years of service in the reserve component will make $355 for a weekend drill," said Flores.
All of this sounded very appealing to one of the participants, Pfc. Caitlan Maura Chorbak, a chemical operations specialist with the 289th Quartermaster Company, 180th Transportation Battalion.
"I love my job," said Chorbak. She needs to leave active duty because of an injury. However, she still would like to join an Army Reserve unit when she returns to her home state of Georgia.
"Not many part time jobs give you full retirement benefits," said Mullin upon conclusion of her brief. Soldiers in the reserve component can start collecting their retirement benefits at the age of 60, she said.
For more information, contact a unit career counselor or Master Sgt. Deena Mullins, Reserve Component career counselor for III Corps and Fort Hood, in the Copeland Soldier Service Center at (254) 288-7682/6878.