Q: Hey June, is it true that reservists only get paid only on weekends?
A: Your question reminds me of a photograph I saw in a magazine a couple of years ago. The picture showed a truck driving across the desert in Iraq, and in the windshield, the reservist or guardsman driving had placed a sign that read, "One weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, my ...!" Historically, reservists have gotten paid for their reserve drills, also known as battle assemblies, and two weeks of annual training in the summer -- sometimes called summer camp.
As the reserve component has transitioned from a strategic reserve to an operational force, there have certainly been a lot more opportunities to get paid beyond weekend drills and AT in the summer. And, that is something you should be prepared for if you decide to raise your right hand and swear to protect and defend the constitution.
Besides the privilege of serving our great nation, there are some very good benefits that go along with the gig. If you retire with 20 years (in the reserves, active duty or a combination), you'll have access to health care during retirement. That's a fantastic -- and I'd dare say priceless! -- benefit. Also, you'd earn a pension at the 20-year and beyond mark. I just received notification that I have 20 "good" years, and that I have the health care and pension plans to look forward to. Hoo-ah! And from the financial planning perspective, the numbers crunch a lot better when a pension is in the picture. Also, you could get a very inexpensive $400,000 life insurance policy through the military. Not meant to be a sales pitch, but the benefits are great and should be considered!
June Lantz Walbert is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner with USAA Financial Planning Services. She is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve with 20 years of service. Walbert's basic branch is Air Defense Artillery. She writes a weekly advice column, " Ask June " on military.com. Follow June @AskJune_usaa.
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