Air Force Reserves Vs. Active Duty Air Force

Updated on May 23, 2017
caseymel profile image

Hello! I am a stay-at-home mom to two wonderful children who keep me very busy.

Air Force Basic Training Video

Valiant Shield - B2 Stealth bomber from Missouri leads ariel formation
Valiant Shield - B2 Stealth bomber from Missouri leads ariel formation | Source

Air Force Reserves versus Active Duty Air Force.

I decided to join the military when I was a Senior in high school.

I joined the Delayed Enlistment Program until I was shipped off to Basic Training. Basic Training was 6 weeks long.

I had testing to find out which career would be the best fit for me, then I was able to choose the career that I wanted to train for from the list of careers they decided would be best for me.

After Basic Training, I went to Tech School for 6 months to train for my new job. Afterwards, I was sent off to my first duty station to begin working.

When choosing to join the Air Force Reserves or Active Duty Air Force there are many things to consider.

Do you want to do it Full-time or Part-time? What do you want to get out of it? Do you want to live in new places?


Air Force Reserves

The Air Force Reserves requires that you work 1 weekend a month and two weeks each year.

You also can choose where you want to live. You usually go to work at the nearest Air Force Reserve Base to where you live.

You go through Basic Training and Technical school just like the Active Duty Members, but afterwards, you are sent back home to begin working from your Reserve base.

How long will you be away for the Air Force Reserves? One weekend a month and two weeks out of the year.

In times of National Disaster or War, the time could be extended. Civilian jobs must, by law, keep your job for you to come back to if you are gone on military duty.


Active Duty Air Force

Active Duty Air Force requires you to sign up for a 4 or 6 year term.

This is your job! They tell you where you live. There is a lot of camaraderie amongst the Active Duty members.

We were all in the same situation together. We were away from our family and homes. We all became family and made a home wherever we went.

The pay was O.K. but the benefits were wonderful. If we were sick, we went to the hospital on base. We didn't have to deal with insurance as long as we went to the hospital on base.

The commissary (grocery store) had very low prices. The BX (a store like Target or Walmart) had everything we needed.

Gas on base was cheap. The preschools and daycares on base were wonderful.

As an Active Duty Air Force Member, you are pretty much On Call all the time. You live where they want you to live and work the hours they want you to work.

Active Duty Air Force members have many great benefits including education, insurance, food allowances, living and expenses housing, yearly pay increases, vacation allowance, retirement benefits and savings plans.

You normally spend anywhere from 2-6 years at a base before getting relocated. I know a few people who were at the same base throughout their whole career in the Air Force.


Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation

Air Force Basic Training Graduation At Lackland Air Force Base
Air Force Basic Training Graduation At Lackland Air Force Base | Source

Choosing Between Active Duty And Reserves

Whether you choose to go Active Duty or Reserves, the main difference is the amount of time you will be putting into it.

If you would like to add a little adventure in your life, learn a new skill and make some extra money, but you do not want to completely disrupt your current life, then the Reserves is the way to go.

If you are looking for a complete change with tons of benefits, decent pay and a secure full-time job then Active Duty is the way to go.


Questions & Answers

  • Which is better to go for Active Duty or Air Force Reserve?

    It depends on what you are looking for. If you want a full-time commitment with more benefits, join the Active Duty Air Force. If you do not want to move from your location and want a part-time experience, join the Reserves.

  • How long do you have to serve in the Air Force Reserve?

    I found this information on https://afreserve.com/faq/: "Your initial military service obligation (MSO) will be for six years of participation (one weekend a month and two weeks once a year), plus two years of inactive status (you are no longer expected to attend drills, but you could still be activated by the President). Subsequent enlistments can be from two to six years."

  • Can I complete my last year of college in either branch of duty while still attending the school I am currently enrolled in?

    If you are in the Reserves, you will be able to complete your last year of college at the school you are attending since you will still be near the school. If you are Active Duty, you will not be able to complete your degree at your school. More than likely, you will be moved away from your college. There are colleges on base (Park College and Embry-Riddle) that will take most of the credits you have so far, though.

© 2012 caseymel

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    • caseymel profile imageAUTHOR

      caseymel 

      6 months ago from Indiana

      From https://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/5-thing... Reserve duty members receive full medical and dental benefits only if called for active duty service. Reservists are afforded unlimited access to post exchanges and may be limited to 24 commissary visits per year. Reserve members are stationed near their home for weekend and two week drill and training duties unless called into active service. Reserve duty members are able to retire after 20 years of service with modified retirement benefits.

    • profile image

      Possible recruit 

      6 months ago

      Can an enlisted reservist serve full time and receive active duty retirement benefits?

    • profile image

      ANGAF 

      7 months ago

      The first caption should be spelled "aerial", not Ariel like from Disney! lol Also, your bullet about the Reserves trailed off at "benef[its]"... Just trying to help polish your article, since the Tongue & Quill encourages professionals to communicate professionally.

    • profile image

      day H 

      9 months ago

      Thanks . Well put

    • profile image

      Jay 

      15 months ago

      Very helpful, thanks!

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