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How to Prepare Yourself for the National Guard

by Maureen Malone

The National Guard is unlike any other military career in that you will serve your local communities as much as you will assist overseas missions. Your unit may be called on by the governor or President at any time to assist with domestic emergencies, natural disasters and reconstruction efforts as well as counter-drug missions and overseas combat.

Commitment

Review the requirements to join the Air National Guard or Army National Guard to make sure you are eligible. You must commit to at least three years of service that includes one weekend of training per month plus two weeks of full-time training each year. Speak with a recruiter to get your questions answered before enlisting in the National Guard.

ASVAB

Scoring well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is critical to qualifying for the career you want to pursue in the National Guard. The National Guard offers more than 150 career paths in three categories: combat arms, combat support and combat service support. Take the National Guard ASVAB Practice Exam and study any areas you need to improve.

Health and Physical Fitness

In addition to physical fitness requirements, the National Guard requires all members to meet weight requirements. Enter your height and age into the National Guard Weight Requirement Calculator to see the acceptable weight range and maximum allowed body fat percentage. In addition, when you enlist, you must pass a medical exam to make sure you are in good health and able to meet the physical demands of basic training. Basic combat training is physically challenging, so it is important to begin exercising before beginning training. Build endurance with running and physical strength with calisthenics.

Personal Affairs

Get your personal affairs in order before shipping out for 10 weeks of basic combat training. During training you will improve your physical fitness and receive all the training and skills needed to serve in the National Guard. Review the Basic Training Essentials for a checklist of things to bring with you. You will also need to resolve any financial or legal matters and make sure to arrange to have bills paid while you are at training. Notify your employer of your training schedule so that they can arrange to have your shift covered while you are gone.

Prepare Your Family

If you have a family, you must help them prepare for the time you will be away at training. You will not be allowed to make phone calls except in emergencies and your family will not be allowed to visit until the last week of training. Provide them with Family Support Group information from the National Guard so they have resources they may need while you are away. If you have children, make sure you arrange for child care and custody.