Enlisting in the Army National Guard is one way to serve your country, without having to spend a lot of time away from home. As a member of the Guard, you are required to attend mandatory periodic training, referred to as “drills.” While each state has its own set of drill policies and procedures, there are a few regulations that are the same regardless of geographic location.
Guard soldiers must commit to one weekend drill per month and one annual drill. The monthly drills are usually local, taking place on Saturdays and Sundays. Every now and then, you may be required to report for weekend drill on a Friday. Annual drills can last up to 14 consecutive days and may or may not require traveling to another state. Where you drill and how long you drill all depends upon your military occupational specialty or job assignment.
Your unit commander gives advance notice of your drill schedule, providing you with ample time to make the necessary schedule adjustments. If an unforeseeable event arises, such as a medical condition or personal hardship, you may be able to request relief from working your scheduled weekend. However, you must notify your unit commander in advance. If you miss a drill, you are required to make it up at a later date. Failure to provide advanced notification of an absence can result in an “absent without leave” charge, also referred to as AWOL. Each state has its own set of regulations regarding how many drills you can miss before being demoted or released. In most states, you are demoted after your sixth unexcused absence and released after the ninth.
Individual Ready Reserve
There is a special group of soldiers in the Army National Guard referred to as Individual Ready Reserve. IRR soldiers are members of the National Guard who are trained military professionals. These soldiers enter the National Guard with existing service obligations. Because IRR soldiers are already trained, they are exempt from the monthly and annual drill requirements. IRR soldiers must attend muster duty with their local unit once per year. Muster duty only last a few hours. During muster duty, the IRR may attend briefings and participate in personnel and medical screenings.
When attending Army National Guard drill, you are required to meet the Army's grooming standards. As a woman, you hair cannot be longer than shoulder length. If it is, you must wear it pulled back in a bun. No heavy makeup or visible tattoos are allowed. Although you are not required to wear your Guard uniform to drill, you are required to bring it with you. The dress regulations for IRR muster duty are more laid back, allowing you to wear civilian clothes.
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