If you are thinking about joining the National Guard or the Reserves, you might be wondering how National Guard pay or Reserve pay works.
Serving in the National Guard and Reserves can be quite different than serving in the active duty military. You have your monthly drills, your annual training, and anything else the military calls you to do. You also work a civilian job, and the military is only a small part of your paycheck.
How do things work for the National Guard and Reserves? How about if you deploy or train for more than a weekend? Will you still receive BAH if you are gone for three weeks?
National Guard Pay and Reserve Pay
Your pay as a National Guard or Reservist is determined by your rank, job, and time in service.
You will always get paid when you train. When you work for the military, you will receive some type of military pay.
What about drill pay and weekend drills?
Weekend drills can be anywhere from 1-4 days long, depending on what is going on, what is needed and even the budget. Usually, you can count on training on Saturday and Sunday with a possible Friday or Monday as well. They will be at your local armory or another location. If you live near a military installation, you might even go there for training.
Each year, you can figure out how much you will get paid during your drill weekends by checking out the military pay charts. For example, in 2018, an E-5 with 8+ years would make $104.19 for 1 drill, $416.76 for 4 drills. An O-7 with 16+ years would make $392.73 for 1 drill, $1,570.92 for 4 drills.
You need to know that 1 drill period is 4 hours. On a typical weekend, you would work 4 drill periods. So that E-5 would earn $416.76 for a regular, two day drill weekend.
You are not given any BAH for a drill weekend.
You should receive your pay for your drill weekend, about 10 days after the weekend is over, give or take.
What about Annual Training (AT)?
AT is annual training and happens once a year, for about two or three weeks. During this time, your base pay would be the same as your active duty counterpart with the same rank and time in service. This will, of course, be prorated for the time that you are away on training.
If you’re gone for less than 30 days, you will receive what is called Basic Allowance for Housing Reserve Component/Transient, or BAH II. This is not the same as BAH, what an active duty service member would receive.
BAH II pays less than what BAH I would pay. It is also not based on your location but instead on rank, if you have dependents or not, and on the national average for housing. The E-5 with dependents would earn $948.30, the 0-7 with dependents would earn $2050.80. This number is also prorated. If you are gone for three weeks, you will receive three weeks worth of BAH II, not the full amount.
If you happen to be gone for more than 30 days, you would then receive BAH I. This is a change as it used to be that you had to be gone 140 days to qualify.
What happens when I deploy?
When you deploy, you are being activated and will receive pay as if you were on active duty. This will include pays such as BAH, Family Separation Pay, Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay, Hardship Duty Pay, Hazardous Duty Pay, Foreign Language Proficiency Pay, BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence,) and all of your pay while deployed will be tax-exempt.
Of course, what you receive when you deploy will depend on where you are going, how long you are there, and what you qualify for.
What about TRICARE?
As far as TRICARE goes, you will have to pay a monthly fee unless you are activated to serve on active duty. When that happens, you can qualify for the same TRICARE that your active duty counterpart does.
If you are not activated, you would need to sign up for TRICARE Reserve Select, and the cost would be $221.38 per month for the service member and their family, $46.09 for just the service member. While you do have to pay for this, the cost is very affordable and less than what you would probably pay through your civilian employer.
Anything else I need to know about National Guard and Reserves Pay?
Remember, every time you are working for the military, you will receive a military paycheck. If you are trying to learn more about how much money you would make as a National Guard or Reserve service member, this should give you an idea of what to expect.