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Choosing between Navy Reserves and ANG

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Hello all, I am currently finishing my last 4 months of PA school and am hoping to commission into either the Navy Reserves or Army NG.  I am 42, about to be 43 prior to commission, so I have talked to both and Navy would need to get a waiver (which I was told would not be a problem) and then a waiver to use my 19 years as a Paramedic to get in the Reserves (which I was also told would probably not be a problem) and the ANG said their max age without prior was 48 so I am good there.  Seeing as how on paper they both look similar with drilling schedules etc, I am curious between the two.  I can go ahead and start the ANG process now and swear in around Dec/Jan per recruiter and with Navy they are getting the needs for next fiscal year in the next 2 weeks then it is a wait game to see if the waivers go through.  While I would love to do Active for Navy for 3 years I can not with my wife wanting to attend PA school in 2021 and us having 3 young kids.  I just don't know the exact route to go and have researched trying to find out the differences and all.  Realistically I wish I could go ahead and start the process for both and then if both are approved decide then but I believe that would look bad.  I would love to hear everyone's opinions and help me which way I can best serve.  Thank you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can't speak specifically to Army or Navy NG. I did spend a few years in the reserves early in my career (90s) when I was a lab tech. 

It really depends on what type of job/unit you are assigned to. I was assigned to a blood donor center in the Midwest. We were attached to two active duty donor centers one at fort leonardwood and one at fort Hood. Our contingency plan for activation was to augment one or the other. Not a bad gig for "deployment" I thought.

Not long after joining my unit I was in Kosovo. Nobody mentioned the contingency plan was only that. I was grabbed by a hospital unit which was short lab techs and deployed for 9 months. 

As a PA you can be assigned to anything from an infantry unit to a hospital and everything in between. If you get an FST (forward surgical team) you could be gone - alot. If you are assigned to a finance unit you may never deploy but can always be taken by another unit. In addition with the guard you are subject to state missions which I don't have experience with.

Maybe ask a few questions about perspective units you would be assigned to. Unlike active duty the guard and reserve recruits for very specific slots. They will know what unit of assignment you would be assigned to. Your required first contract would likely be 3-4 years. Ask about bonuses as I know the reserves offers a bonus for PAs. I suspect the guard would be the same but Navy may have different options. 

I know none of that is specific to or answers your comparison question but there are likely only a small handful of people who have been PAs in both Navy and Army to provide a direct comparison. 


Good luck on your decision. 

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  • 1 month later...

I got out of the Texas NG in 2016. Being a PA in the Guard can vary from state to state/ unit to unit. Our PA was bored and dreaded coming to drill. Most people show up to drill pretty healthy. The occasional injury can occur but nothing the Medic can’t handle. So our PA didn’t do much. AD (Active Duty) PAs have more excitement IMO. There are AGR positions but I myself have never met an AGR PA. One thing that was cool about the guard, were their deployments. Back in 2012 guard units were deploying A LOT. Don’t know about now but when I was in the guard, our unit mobilized to a whole bunch of cool places Egypt(MFO), Chile, Germany. Of course they went to Iraq and Afghanistan too. Hope this was helpful for the army side. 

Also if it helps, The type of unit I was in was a Cav Scout Unit. Our PA was in charge of the Squadron Aid Station . Again different unit may have a different experience.

Edited by BLM8867
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  • 2 months later...

I am currently in the Guard as a PA since 2011. I joined at 42. Deployed once to Afghanistan, and love my job. Im not sure about the incentives in the Navy but I think the Guard is currently at 25K per year. about 19500 after taxes. You can use that to pay down your student debt or for whatever else. I would not recommend the loan repayment program. There have been lots of problems getting the money and I have one doc in my unit who has been waiting 3 years for his first repayment and the interest keeps adding. The incentive is much more predictable.

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