Can I Get Out of the Military Early?

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Get out of the military early

I receive dozens of emails each week. I read every email I receive, and I respond to as many emails as I can. Most responses are private, but sometimes I like to take a reader question and turn it into a podcast or an article. This article is one such occasion. I have received multiple reader questions asking if it is possible to get out of the military early. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today in great detail.

Here is the reader question:

Hello, I am in the coast guard and I am not happy here at all. I have only been in for about 3 months and I want to get it and go about my life in a different way. Am I able to do that? And how would that affect my future?

Can You Get Out of the Military Early?

Get out of the military earlyYou signed a contract, and you are expected to honor that contract. Barring a breach of that contract on your end, which you don’t want to do, you should expect to serve out the remainder of your contract. On their end, the military will uphold their end of the bargain as well. You will have a job for the duration of your enlistment, barring a few unforeseen circumstances, which we will discuss in a few moments.

That means you have a guaranteed job for the next few years. You have a fixed income, health care, and a variety of benefits that would make most of your friends back home pale with envy. But we’ll get to all that.


Let’s talk about your contract. You are expected to serve out the duration of your enlistment. During that time, the military will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars training you in your career. That includes housing you, feeding you, and paying you while all you are required to do is learn. Learn how to be a functioning member of your branch of service. Learn how to do your job, learn how to follow directions, and eventually, learn how to lead. Your job for the first 6-12 months is simple: Be a sponge. Learn.

You probably signed a 3-6 year contract, and barring a few exceptions, you should expect to serve the duration.

Here are a few of those exceptions: The military has certain standards all service members must meet. This includes health, physical fitness, academic standards, and more. Here are some examples:

  • Medical Standards – This one is often out of the member’s control. We can’t always control our health. This is not the route you want to chase unless you truly have a health issue that prevents you from serving.
  • Physical Fitness Standards – Everyone in the military is required to pass a physical fitness test. Failure to do so may result in a forced separation from the military. Unfortunately, it may also hurt your discharge rating.
  • Academic Standards – Failure to meet academic standards can get you kicked out of the military for failure to meet standards. There are several points in one’s career when this can happen, generally during basic training, AIT or Tech School, and during the qualifications section of your training once you go to your full-time duty station. Failure to meet academic standards later in your career may not get you kicked out of the military, but it may prevent you from promoting to a higher rank.
  • Military Standards – Failure to meet military standards is a catch-all term used for a variety of reasons. For example, failure to show up on time, failure to meet physical standards, disciplinary problems, and more.

Early Separation Types

There are two main types of early separation – voluntary and involuntary. The difference is whether you decide to get out or the military tells you to get out. This can have a dramatic impact on your future benefits, separation pay, and more.

Involuntary Separations. This is just what it sounds like. You essentially get laid off from the military. This is happening to thousands of servicemembers as we speak. The military is downsizing through a program called Force Shaping. Basically, the military tells members in certain career fields and pay grades that they will no longer have a job. But here is the important thing to know – it usually doesn’t happen during a servicemember’s first term (though it can happen at the end of the first term; basically the servicemember just isn’t allowed to reenlist in their current job because it will no longer exist). Another important thing to know is that if you have served 6 years you will be eligible for involuntary separation pay.

Voluntary Separations. Sometimes the military offers members the opportunity to get out of their contract early. There are several ways this can happen. In some cases, members will be allowed to simply leave their contract and go on their merry way. However, members often incur a service commitment to the Guard or Reserves if they leave active duty early. This could be a Regular Reserve or Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) commitment. For example, the Air Force offers the Palace Chase program. In exchange for getting off active duty early, servicemembers agree to serve double the time left on their contract in the Air National Guard. Other branches may have similar programs that allow active duty members off early in exchange for transitioning into the Guard or Reserves. Sometimes these programs even come with opportunities for additional bonuses or the opportunity to change career fields.

There may also be bonus or separation pay in some cases. Early retirement may be an option for some members, provided they have enough service time and their branch of service offers it to them.

How Would Early Separation Affect You?

There are several factors to consider, including your military discharge type, missing out on the experience and training you otherwise would have received, earning potential, missed benefits, and more. Let’s start with looking at the types of discharges and the impact it can have on your post-military career.

Discharge types and their long-term impact: The type of discharge you receive will play a big role in the long-term impact it has on your post-military career. Your discharge type will depend on why you are discharged.

  • Honorable Discharge – this is awarded to those who served honorably. This will only have a neutral or positive impact on your post-military employment.
  • General Discharge – can be for a variety of reasons, from administrative, medical, or even for bad behavior, including non-judicial punishment. This will typically have a neutral affect on your employment opportunities.
  • Other than Honorable Discharge – this is the most severe type of administrative discharge, breaking the law, violent actions, or other severe infractions. The member usually cannot reenlist or otherwise go back into the military with this discharge rating. This can also impact future employment, particularly with state and federal governments, and those that require specific background checks. This also applies to the next two types of discharges as well.
  • Bad Conduct Discharge – requires a Court Martial.
  • Dishonorable Discharge or a Dismissal, for Officers – very bad.

Bad Conduct discharges and dishonorable discharges or dismissals can have long-term negative impacts on your ability to work in certain types of jobs, and may impact you in other ways.

Now Let’s Talk About the Real Issue

The first 3 months of everyone’s military life sucks. It just flat out does. In some branches, you’re just getting through basic training. If you’ve been in 6 months, you’ve probably made it through basic, and either all the way through tech school or AIT, or at least part way.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Your initial military training is not designed to make you like the military. It’s designed to make you a Soldier. Or an Airman. Or a Marine. Or a Seaman. Or a Coastie.

Your initial training time is designed to break you down and build you back up. To train you to understand how the military works, and to act accordingly. It’s not all sunshine and unicorns. Sometimes it sucks. But you can and will grow as an individual, and as a member of a highly functioning team.

The point is, at 3 to 6 months into you military career, you haven’t had enough time to get through training and actually experience the operational military yet. And I can guarantee just about every veteran will tell you there is a huge difference between the first 6 months of your military career and what you experience in your second year. Or third year. And so on.

Things change when you get proficient at your job

  • you earn respect of your fellow servicemembers
  • you take on responsibility
  • you learn to follow orders and give them.
  • you grow as an individual and as a leader.
  • You gain a lot of autonomy, so long as you can perform your assigned tasks
  • in short, you grow up.

DON’T QUIT!

Quitting now will set an enormously bad precedent for your life.

The military is one of the first major challenges many young adults face. How will you feel going through the rest of your life knowing that you gave up the first time things got tough? You’ll be more likely to give up in the future when things aren’t as fun as you expected them to be. Leading you to a life of job-hopping, failing to foster deep relationships, and pretty much never excelling at anything because it was tough.

You probably think I’m going overboard with the previous statements. But I’m not.

Look, everyone wants instant gratification. We all want to get to the top without putting in the work. We all want to take the easy path. But life doesn’t work that way. You have to put in the work! To be successful in life, you have to accept challenges head on.

Where to Go From Here:

Address the issue head on. Find out why you are unhappy and do your best to address that issue. Is it your job? Friends back home? Something else? Only you know. So put some time into thinking about why you are unhappy, and how you can address those issues.

Give it some time – you haven’t been in long enough to see the operational military. At least not enough to fully understand your role in it and the opportunities that are before you.

  • Finish your contract – man up – you signed it!
  • Take advantage of every opportunity
  • Take advantage of education, pay, travel, skills, training, and other benefits

Closing:

Look, I know the military isn’t perfect and it may not be the long-term answer for your career. That’s why I separated from active duty after I finished my first enlistment. But there are also many amazing opportunities to be had during your time in the military. You will have a variety of experiences you will cherish the rest of your life, even if you only serve 4 years. You will make lifelong friends, even if you only serve 4 years.

You may even decide that you miss the military long after you get out. I did that. I joined the Air National Guard 8.5 years after I left active city because I missed being in uniform and being part of a unit and working toward a goal that is larger than anything I could do on my own. I never would have understood that line of thinking during my first few months in the military. And it’s likely that most servicemembers don’t truly grow to appreciate that until they have served long enough to actually see and understand how their role works in the grand scheme of things. And that takes time.

I encourage you to give it some more time and see how things work out. My guess is that if you finish your initial contract and decide to get out, you will be glad you stuck with it, even if you realize part way through the military isn’t for you in the long run.

And I can also pretty much guarantee that if you were able to get out tomorrow and you did, you would regret giving up on yourself and the military for the rest of your life.

Stick with it. You’ll be glad you did.


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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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  1. Curt W says

    I have aquestion about your contract with the military. I signed a six year with the guards with twenty thousand dollar sign on and have done over one and a half years into it. Have not seen any of that bonus but received eaight hundred from 2012. Is my contract broken do to army? Thats what I’m trying to figure out.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Curt,

      I recommend working with your Human Resources (HR) department or your base JAG for more information about your bonus, qualifying for the bonus, payments, and if you have any recourse with your contract. These organizations can help you review your contract and help you to understand your options.

      Best wishes.

  2. John Holmes says

    Hey I’m currently in the Army reserve and I have been missing the past few drills in the past months but thank god for coronavirus bc I didn’t have to go or talk to or see any person because I have horrible anxiety and I just want to break down and cry most of time because I’m so depressed about knowing that if I don’t go I will probably get dishonorably discharged or jail but I want to get out now and fast bc I cannot take this anymore I’ve waited way too long and no one is helping me leave the Army and I don’t want to speak to any military or army navy marines no one I can’t I just wanna send a paper in and never come back and not have the worst repercussions and ruin my life even more than it is when I joined almost a full 3 and a half years ago.

  3. Joe black says

    I’m currently in the Corps. I would say 3 months is a little to early to want to get out I would say see how it goes a 1 and some change later but I stumbled on this site because I currently want to get out of my contract but I been in for a little over 2 years. From what I heard it is possible not as easy but very possible.

  4. Parker Johnson says

    Ok so I’m in the army now right. And have been in since March 25, 2019 up to now so almost a year. That’s the date I left for infantry OSUT. And turns out I don’t really like the unit I’m with the leadership is bad and I’m always the one to get the ****** end of the stick most of the time with getting criticized about many different things an led it is keeping me from trying to set goals and out in the work to accomplish what I want to accomplish and that is being in the 75th ranger regiment. Idk if this is an option and if there is a name for it if there is one but I would like to get out of the army for about a year rn even though my enlistment is 3 years and 16 weeks and come back in after a year with a rasp contract to go to ranger selection so that way I would have a whole year to myself to work hard with or and accomplish my goals in the civilian world with out the destractions the military brings with serving. So that way I can come back more prepared than ever to accomplish what I wish to and be doing exactly what I want in the army instead of dealing with guys that keep me from accomplishing what I want to by criticizing me and making me feel down all the time. If you ever read this and know something I could do possibly or not can u get back with me for details? Would be great. Thank you for your time

  5. Jeann says

    So I have been in for 2 years and 7 months. I signed up for 6 years thinking my physical body can make it for the Army. As you know, the Army is changing there physical p.t. test. It’s a fact due to my current physical health it’s harder to pushed my body not only for the old p.t. but the new p.t. And they put limbo on trying to fixed my dominant hand to get a second opinion before getting a surgery, I am currently not happy due to my health and the limbo on fixing my right hand-arm without a second opinion from a civilian. What do you think the best way to cut my contract? I highly doubt I will cry if I get out the right way. I will only be more in deep depression if I am physically more disable and can no longer work after I get out of the military. I understand your mental commitment and put it in the paper to serve and hone our character for the future.

  6. Erin Benson says

    I’ve been in the USNR since December 2017 as an RN officer. Have yet to lay hands on a patient, I just do paperwork GMTs (and PRTs every 6 months). Flew from Juneau, out of pocket, first 2 years to drill in Anchorage. Have received a PRD (projected rotation date of June 2020. Was due my last bonus this November 2019, but Navy says they have no money for reserve bonuses. They are out of contract with me right? And I hate my job, since I don’t do anything, just show up and maybe work on GMTs. How can I get out? Is PRD my end of service date? And then I’m out of Active Reserves into IRR?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Erin,

      I recommend speaking with a JAG regarding your contract. They should be able to help you understand how it is written and what you are promised under the contract. 

      I’m not sure what your PRD is – that isn’t a term I’ve heard in the Air Force. Your personnel / human resources office should be able to help you understand this term and your assignment options. 

      As for getting out early – this isn’t something I can really give more information on. You will need to review your current contract and your options within the USNR. Each branch has slightly different ways of going about retention and early out policies. This is something your personnel / human resources office can assist with as well. Keep in mind, I am not saying they can help you get out early. I am simply saying that would be the organization to speak with.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  7. Catherine says

    I have a friend that has been in the army for quite a few years. He has spent the last 6 years being moved from one place to another overseas. It is starting to effect his thinking. What can he do to get out of the army and be able to return back to the states?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Catherine, 

      This isn’t something that can easily be addressed via email. The best place to start is by speaking with his base Chaplain (even if he is not religious, the base Chaplain is a great place to start for issues such as these). He can also speak with his supervision to see if there is anything that can be done, he can seek on-base counseling, or he can put in for a change of assignment. There may be options, but he needs to seek them out and be proactive.

      I wish you the best.

  8. Haiming Li says

    Hi Ryan:

    Thanks so much sir, for this valuable sharing, I think it’s very helpful for those young soldiers who just stated.

    But my situation is different. I’m from Queens, New York, and joined the Army at the age of 33 as a SPC, which is last year, and my wife agreed with me at that time and also we talked about travel around and we think our children could have different experience too in their early ages. Unfortunately things changed. After I got stationed in Fort Campbell, we did some research and my wife just had one tour here and decided she and our children will not be coming to Fort Campbell, because she can have a better job in NY and my kids can have better schools there too…. as you can imagine, being separated with them, we have more and more issues popping up, such as more life expenses for two locations(BAH dropped dramatically), a lot of work for my wife herself taking care 2 kids, and for me, the feeling of being alone and unable to take care my family has been a torture to me…. For the other hand, I’m doing better and better in the Army, I improved my PT score from 160 to 270, I got a certificate, and graduated from Air Assault school too, I don’t want to give up like this…. But I know I can’t leave my family behind, I need to find a way to take care of them. So I’m thinking of getting out earlier, or changing to a base closer to NY, or changing my contact to Guard or Reserve, ext. Do you have any suggestions for me? In my opinion, changing the contracts to the Reserve May be the best choice for me, do you know if is it possible to do this? Looking forward to your reply, I appreciate!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Haiming, the military may sometimes allow members to get out of the military early and transition into the Guard or Reserves. However, each branch handles this differently and often on a case by case basis. Most branches have programs that allow members to transition into the Guard or Reserves early. However, the names of the programs and the rules vary by branch.

      I recommend contacting your Human Resources office and asking them if there are any programs that would allow you to transition out of the active duty Army early, and transition directly into the Guard or Reserves. They should be able to help you identify those programs and the eligibility requirements.

      I wish you and your family the best!

    • Wei Shi says

      can you contact me I have similar situation like you ,I would like to know how is you doing now.If you can please send me email,I am looking forward to your respond. Thank you so much

  9. Derek Lewis says

    Hello, I am a concerned parent worried about my daughter’s health and the treatment she has been getting. She has been in the navy for 4 1/2 years and is nearing the end of her 5-year term. She has been serving overseas and for the last several months she has had some medical issues and is still not feeling well. She saw a few doctors on her ship and a few in port but the antibiotics and the antiinflammatories and pain pills are not making her feel better or resolving the main health issue. Since shes over seas on a ship, it is hard as a parent to help her. Is there any way to get her home for proper medical diagnoses and medical treatment and then when shes properly healed then report back to duty for the remainder of her time?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Derek, I understand your concern. However, this is outside my area of expertise. So far as I am aware, any decision of this type would need to be run through her military doctor and her command.

      Additionally, any treatment or treatment outside of the military healthcare system would need to be requested and approved prior to being covered by the military. I’m not sure how this process works, but I would assume it would start by the servicemember speaking with her military doctor and requesting additional tests or medical services.

      I wish your daughter the best of health.

  10. Miloslav Minkov says

    Hello Ryan Guina, thank you for all that information it toke me a while to read through all those posts. I know that my question is not connected to the get out of the military subject, im asking doe the Air Force have a 3-year contract and if they do does that mean if i sight it i will be able to take advantage of the army benefits and do they have an option of 2 active and 2 reserve and again if they do and i sight that option can i take advantage of the benefits that the arm has.
    Once again thank you for all your expertise and information and i want to apologies if im addressing a different topic

    • Ashlynn says

      Hello my son is 19 left for navy feb 3 20 he wants out he is having separation issues very sad his dad has stage 4 cancer and I think he feels he needs to be home helping him, he’s been in one month tonight me got a 5min call he was with Chaplin and asked us if he tried to get out would we consider him a failure so my question is can he get out with chaplains help or do they stay out of it and let him try on his own. Thank you

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hello Ashlynn,

        I’m sorry to hear about his dad’s health. Your son is doing the right thing by visiting the Chaplain. I recommend that he work with the Chaplain for counseling and guidance. The Chaplain can make recommendations, but the decision is ultimately up to the commanding officer. How your son wishes to proceed will play a big role in the outcome as well.

        Basic military training is designed to be difficult – and it is more difficult when you have personal issues that you can not control. So your son is in a perfect storm.

        He will need to decide how he wants to proceed and what he wants to do. There was a reason he joined the military.  If he leaves now, it’s possible he may not get another chance. So he will need to keep that in mind. 

        That said, it’s also possible that he may get another chance if he is willing to start at the beginning again. These kinds of situations are handled on a case by case basis so it’s not possible for anyone to predict how this will turn out.

        Either way, he has a difficult set of decisions to make.

        I wish your family the best.

  11. Elliot says

    In BCT, the army cannot discharge someone right away for whatever reason. They go through a lengthy administrative process that can take weeks or months. During that time, the recruit is placed in non-training status but is still subject to UCMJ until 0:00 of the day of his discharge. I had a very close call with a female drill sergeant who I accidentally called sergeant because she wasn’t wearing the signature brimmed hat. She wasn’t pleased to say the least.

    Had she been in a worse mood, she could have went straight to my drill sergeant or even my company commander and had me charged with disrespect to an NCO. Which would have downgraded my discharge midway in the process, which would force me to stay on base even longer while additional paperwork is completed.

    When you are a non-training recruit awaiting discharge, it’s more like being a prisoner on probation. You have to demonstrate good behavior, respect to authority, and willingness to follow all lawful orders. Because they WILL watch and wait for you to slip so they can build evidence against you to downgrade your discharge. It’s a tense game of tiptoeing towards the gate without waking up the vicious guard dogs.

    They’ll also ask if you are harboring suicidal or homicidal thoughts. NEVER EVER EVER! say yes just to get out faster. They will lock you up in the ward.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Elliot everyone in the military is subject to the UMCJ, 24/7, 365, until the minute they have separated. In some cases, retirees can be charged under the UMCJ for crimes. That is part and parcel with military service. No one will ever be discharged for simply addressing someone as Sergeant instead of Drill Sergeant. Sure, they could yell a little, write you up, or otherwise intimidate you. But they can’t discharge someone for something that minor. That isn’t how the military system works.

      Finally, yes, the military can discharge people right away in some circumstances. However, each situation is unique, and the legal and/or admin processes must be followed correctly. The military doesn’t arbitrarily keep people in uniform when they are going to be discharged just so they can “watch over them like a hawk and hammer them with military justice if they slip up.” They do so because there is a process that must be followed.

  12. Susan Motes says

    Please help me …my friend has served 18yrs in the army..lately hes been telling me that in order to get home he will need 3thousand for air travel from afganistan and we paid 1800 for his release papers .Hes is a E6 Sargent whom Is ready to retire. Something dont sound right here, is this how they thank r guys for putting their lives on the line?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Susan, The U.S. military does not allow people to buy their way out of their contract and does not ever require them to pay for their own airline tickets home from an assignment.

      There are many scammers out there who pose as military members and use this and a similar type of lie to convince people to send them money.

      Never send money to anyone who is not your blood relative or that you have never met in person. If you have never met this person in real life and you have sent them money, it is almost certainly gone forever. If you have not sent them money, don’t. You will never see any return on it, never meet the individual in person, and you will be subjected to a seemingly endless stream of lies and manipulations to try and get more money from you.

      I cannot stress this enough: the military does not allow members to buy themselves out of their contract and they do not require them to buy their own airline tickets home from an assignment. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying and is trying to steal your hard-earned money.

      If this “friend” is lying to you, cut off all communication with them immediately and never speak to them again. Engaging will only lead to more hurt.

      I wish you the best.

  13. Sam says

    I’m currently on my 8th year in the army reserves and I want out. I’m your typical soldier right place, right time, pass pt. I just want out. I don’t want to serve for another 4 years, and with the new addition of a child it’s very difficult to stay fit for the military. Is there a buyout option or any option to get out early in the army reserves

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Sam, You will need to speak with your Human Resources office to see if there are any opportunities, such as transitioning into the IRR or other ways to get out of the military.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  14. JP says

    Want to pick your brain about that aha moment that made you realize that you could not do what you really wanted. Feel like I am in a similar position.

  15. Maritza says

    Hello, I just swore into DEP for the Air Force a couple weeks ago and some days ago I got “cold feet” and some anxiety to the point where I got really close to calling my recruiter and requesting to be discharged from DEP. I know where the cold feet is coming from, it’s from thinking about having to leave home. I’m still in high school and I haven’t even gotten a ship date, much less and AFSC, and I’m so nervous. Joining a branch of the military is something I’ve been wanting to do for years, but I’m scared. Do you have any advice or suggestions?

  16. Kristy Strader says

    My boyfriend has been in the USArmy is in syria and got the approval for early separation and is retiring he has been with army for 18yrs . He has shown me that his bank acct is dormant and hasnt been used since 2014 said that he can get a loan but i need to come up with 2000$ and then they will send him home

  17. Debra pounds says

    I have someone talking to me on hangouts. They have served the military for 6 years and signed up for another 4. He wants to retire early and says he has to pay 500.00 USD to have him sign off on his paperwork. He is Romanian in Syria. He says he’s a peacekeeper – he is military police. Is this true about paying to get out?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Debra, No, this is a scam. The US Military never charges their servicemembers to break a contract or get out early. This is a common scam where people impersonate US military members (or members of a military from another country) in order to try and scam money from people.

      If this is someone in a military from another country, then they wouldn’t charge US dollars in order to break a contract.

      Do not ever send money to anyone you only know through the internet. Only send money to people you know in person (preferably only family members).

      Best wishes.

  18. greg white says

    I believe this is an old thread, but probably a regular question. My son is air force air traffic control. He started april 24, 2018. six year enlistment. my question is if he leaves after four years of that contract, how much air national guard will he have to do? how many years? I thought that if they completed the full six years, he was still required to do two more years ANG?

    thank you and just hoping he made the right decision…

  19. Gina Mesko says

    Hello Ryan!

    My son-in-law served in active duty in the Army for 3.5 years and then signed a 6-year contract in the Army National Guard through May, 2020. He highly desires to return to active duty which seemed to be a much better fit for both of them.

    Would the Army accept this request?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Gina,

      Thank you for contacting me. The Army sometimes allows members to transfer from the Guard or Reserves to active duty. However, it is always based on the needs of the Army at that specific time. The Army is much more likely to accept the transfer request if they need more troops with his rank and MOS (career field), than if they don’t need more troops in his specialty.

      He will need to contact a recruiter or work with his unit for more information and to process the request if it is a possibility. He could also look into a full-time position with the Guard if any are available at his unit.

      I wish you all the best.

  20. Dawn s says

    Thank you for this article! We are concerned for our family member who has just competed training for Command Post, stateside. We’ve discovered his reports have been sugar-coated to protect us all from worrying about him, but he is actually in agony over the boredom and is feeling completely useless and ******* over. He sees only the same three people each day at work, and only has a couple menial tasks upon arrival and then is literally allowed to sleep for the rest of the shift. He’s miserable. He had scores to qualify for nearly any job, he was a 3-sport D1 caliber athlete and gave up a scholarship to join. Based on what the recruiter told him AND the family, the job is NOTHING like the recruiter described. He also was suckered into 6yrs but the recruiter completely lied about the benefits that would entail! This Airman is honestly a dream candidate for the military. Athletic, academic, avid hunter, conscientious, extremely high morals, has zero vices…we need more soldiers like him and yet he’s eating away at a desk…asleep! He specifically joined the AF bcs he wants to become a cop or enter into the investigate side of the AF….(My husband is a former Honor Guard Marine and had he been involved, maybe it would’ve turned out differently!) But the recruiter played upon his family’s ignorance.
    Is there ANY recourse? Wouldn’t the AF want to know if such a candidate was being left to deteriorate?
    Thank you kindly!

    • Shaun says

      Recruiters are paid to recruit. They get bonuses on recruitment numbers. Alot of them. The fancier the car the more likely they are a good “recruiter.” This usually entails telling the mark whatever it takes to get the contract signed. It’s like being stopped by a cop. If you have marijuana, they can and will tell you anything to get you to fess up.

      I read every contract because of recruiters. If it’s not written, it never happened. Always get it in writing.

      Your starting point is there. Read the contract fully. From there it’s the personnel officers. If you talk to recruiters they are simply going to try and convince him to stay the course. They will not and do not help with issues. If you get out early they lose bonus. If you change MOS in the first term they take a hit. They get bonuses based on pure numbers, MOS needed positions filled, and contract completion. Always remember that.

  21. Concerned S.O. says

    Thank you for your informational article. My partner has been in the Air Force for one year. We met in the city where they are currently stationed. I’m concerned about his health and well being. Since he joined he has suffered from depression and anxiety. He is very different from the other service members and has trouble socializing with them. This has been very isolating for him.

    The Air Force pays for his housing on the base, but won’t give him permission to live off base. The base is very big and only service members or those with special passes are allowed on, so when he is there I can not go see him. Since we met he has seemed much happier being more involved with civilian life. However, recently his shift was switched to Mids- 12am to 8am, and he has been suffering from chronic sleep deprivation. He has trouble sleeping at all during the day, and has trouble staying awake at work. He has told his co-workers about his struggle and they laugh in his face and call him lazy and weak. For the last month he has been averaging 3hours of sleep a day. He has become depressed and very anxious. Again, no one has expressed concern or tried to help him.

    One night he fell asleep at my house and missed 3 hours of his shift. Officers cane to my house in the middle of the night because they made his only friend take him to where I live and saw his car outside. They rang the doorbell at 12am and woke up my other family members. They proceeded to call him by his full name but my family members only know his nick name and did not know who they meant. The Officers left assuming he had deserted even though the other servicemember, his friend, insisted that he was likely asleep inside at that my family members didn’t recognize his full name. When he finally woke up, (he accidentally fell asleep before work, in uniform ready to go) he drove immediately to base. Upon his arrival the local police arrested him for deserting. They told him that if he had not come to base they would have gotten a warrant to search my property. After he told them he was sleep deprived and accidentally fell asleep, they released him from police custody.

    They put him through many meetings and interrogated him on whether he was deserting the military. After that they sent him to work and one of his supervisors commented that “he hoped he enjoyed his beauty sleep.” I’m genuinely concerned for his well-being and safety and those around him. Other service members have been late to shifts and no one has been searched or arrested. Furthermore, he works with expensive and large aircraft, which have been known to kill distracted mechanics. None of his fellow servicemen or supervisors seem at all considered with his safety as he struggles to sleep outside of work and stay awake at work. What are his rights and how can he ensure his safety? I can see his health deteriorating everyday as he continues to lose more and more sleep. I am here reading this because I don’t want to get lawyers involved but I am increasingly concerned that his health will continue to be ignored until something even more serious happens. Thank you for your time. Any help is appreciated.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Concerned S.O. – He needs to set an appointment with a medical provider and/or his base legal office. They can help him understand his options for health care, counseling, legal options, etc. This is his best course of action. I hope he gets the help he needs.

  22. James Camron says

    -I agree with Heather and Bruce Elosis. I also believe that some comments get deleted, but that’s for a different time and place.

    Most people will try to convince you to staying because that’s all they know. The military makes us dependent and damps our ability of free will. Senior members tell you to stay in, it will get better when you rank and officers tell you to become one of them “commission programs”. What no one ever tells you is that not every one will be an officer and not everyone will make rank. In a nutshell use the military as a stepping stone but never make it a career. It’s best to make these choices for your self and end that “monkey see monkey do” cycle.

    • Ryan Guina says

      James, I am the site owner and moderator. Very few comments get deleted on this site. Those that are deleted are usually comments that are abusive, directed at someone directly, or are promotional in nature. The purpose of this site is to help military members and veterans make the best decisions for themselves. I’m not trying to push an agenda for convincing people to remain in the military or to get out. Each person should make his or her own decision in that regard.

      And on that note, there is no one-size-fits-all advice. The military can be a great stepping stone, as you mention. That’s what I did. I used my military experience and the degree I earned while I was on active duty, and I leveraged that into a good-paying job in the civilian world. I later joined the Air National Guard after an 8.5 year break in service. I have a much different perspective after having served on active duty, then being away for so long. Separating was absolutely the right decision and I have no regrets. Coming back in was also a great decision, and it’s worked out well for me. But those decisions we right for me, and I won’t try to push them on anyone else.

      I’ve known many people to stick it out for 20 or more years and earn a full retirement. And I’ve known many more who walked away after their commitment. Neither is better than the other. The only thing that matters is how the veteran carries themselves and whether they make the right decision for themselves and their family.

  23. Bruce Elosis says

    All of the way through boot camp, they said it will be better in A school. Same old BS.

    All the way through A school, they said once you are a PO3 and in Nuc school it will be better. Same old BS.

    All the way through Nuc School, they said it would be better in the fleet. Same old BS.

    I served my 6 years, the terms when I was in, and very happily got out. What I learned was that I really wanted to return to college and succeed as a civilian. Thanks for that, US Navy.

    You need a certain mindset to enjoy and fit in in the Navy.

    I was a well behaved sailor, got out as E-6, but they never could mold me into one of them. I also realized I would never be a CPO. They bitched at me for getting out, they felt I still owed them, and made a point of saying that a fault I had was that I rarely (I think they said never) socialized with the other Navy guys and was disloyal because I wanted out to go to college. Time was running out on that, sort of, I was 29.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Candace, Thank you for contacting me. There is no direct fee for an early dismissal. That said, the military will collect any debts which are owed, including overpayments, or if the member received a bonus but did not complete the full term. There could be other instances in which the member would owe the government money upon the termination of their contract. But it would never be classified as a “fee” to get out of their contract or for early dismissal from service. I hope this answers your question.

  24. Melissa says

    My boyfriend signed up for four years and served 2 and wants to come home for good they told him he has to go threw his lawyer and pay $620 on his irr is this true

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Melissa, I am not aware of any process that allows military members out of their contract by paying a “$620 fee on his irr.” I’ve never heard of this and don’t know what it means. Also, going through a lawyer won’t necessarily do anything for the contract he signed when he joined the military. A lawyer would need a legal basis for negating the contract.

      Some of the methods for getting out of the military early are mentioned in this article. Your boyfriend can also speak with his First Sergeant, personnel or admin office, his chaplain, or others to see if there are any other options available to him.

    • Shelley Woodard says

      Hi I wonder if ask questions you told my husband that he pay 3,500 dollars if he want out army he pay his replacement before they will sign his papers is that true. They don’t have heart he daughter miss him so much he has not seen his for five years going on six Years.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Shelley, the U.S. military will never charge members to let them out of the service early. There is no policy that allows for this.

  25. Cassie says

    I am currently in the Navy and have been for 4 years. My EAOS is September 2018 but I have been having mental issues. I think it began when I joined but I kind of ignored it. After I had my son, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression, then anxiety, then just regular depression. It is affecting my marriage and it is gradually getting worse, to the point where as soon as I get into my car after work I just start crying. I see a psychologist and I told her that I just want to get out early. I have asked multiple people in my chain of command. Some are no help whatsoever because they don’t know anything about it and others tell me they won’t let me get out early because there are no quotas to get out early. Is there any way I can get out based on my mental health issues?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Cassie, Thank you for contacting me. I am not medically trained, so I can’t speak specifically on mental health issues. That said, I recommend you continue seeking treatment and getting the help you need. As with everything in the military, document everything, including correspondence with your supervision. Send written Memorandums for Record or emails if you need to. The more professionally you handle this, the more seriously they should take you. If you need to, see if you can get your psychologist to recommend a Medical Evaluation Board or other course of action. You may also find it helpful to seek assistance from an outside source, such as a veterans service organization. Many of them have trained counselors who can help you navigate the system better than I would be able to do.

      I hope you receive the care that you need and I wish you the best.

  26. Cody Fletcher says

    Hi Ryan,

    I enlisted in the National Guard in 2011 did all my basic and AIT stuff and spent some time at my unit. 1-133rd. During that time I became really ill, with respiratory issues. I was getting treated for pneumonia for 4 months straight, and during that time as you would guess, my PT tests went to absolute crap. I had never before had issues with PT tests, or any physical training whatsoever. My CO, didn’t approve me missing drill when i really needed to recover and as a result, My scores just plummeted. At this point I became so depressed I lost all motivation for anything, even basic hygiene went down. Come time for evals, I, of course, let them know what’s going on. This led to them taking my rifle, my gear, and barring me from attending AT that particular year. I was devastated and felt so useless in the military that I just left altogether. My squad leader tried calling me about it a couple times, but after that, I haven’t heard anything.

    I did end up paying a lot of money later on through income tax returns, but this has all since paid off.

    What I want more than anything right now, is to get back into the military. The AIR FORCE, to be precise. When I went to basic in the ARMY it was the greatest experience of my life. The hard training, everything. (11B) When I got to my unit, it was nothing like it. The unit support for anything such as benefits, or the like, was almost non-existent. It took 5 months for my commander to sign off on my GI bill which I then never even received while in school for the 9 months, nor did I receive NGEAP for tuition that I was promised under my 6year 2 IRR contract. With all that in mind, I simply left. AWOLd out.

    But now, I want to join the AIR FORCE, I want more than anything for the chance to serve my country through and through again. I was 21… So young and stupid, and made the dumbest decision of my life, when really I could have probably figured out a better way to handle the situation. Is there any way I can join?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Cody, Thank you for contacting me. Sorry to hear you had a rough go with the Army. And I can understand wanting to try again with the Air Force or another service. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you. It will depend on many factors, and I don’t have the insight to give you an answer. You will need to contact an Air Force recruiter (Active, Guard, or Reserve recruiter, depending on which section of the Air Force you are trying to join). You will need to provide the recruiter with any relevant paperwork you have and they will be able to tell you if it will be possible to join the Air Force.

      I will tell you that it may be difficult, depending on which type of Reenlistment Code (RE Code) you were assigned when you separated from the Army. Some RE Codes make it very difficult, or even impossible, to join the military again, unless you get it changed (on appeal) or get waivers.

      I’m not saying your case will be impossible – I don’t have access to your RE Code, or any personal information. And I don’t know the needs of the Air Force or the specific requirements currently in place. These details are frequently changing, which is why you will need to contact a recruiter. Only they can realistically answer your questions.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

      • Cody says

        I got my DD214 today, I have RE 1 on the DD214, with a General Discharge from the National Guard, My recruiter seems to think that it’s possible. So, we’re gonna meet up during my lunch break tomorrow to go over some things. I’ll let ya know what he says.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Excellent. Your RE Code is probably the biggest administrative factor right now. Of course, you’ll still most likely have to process through MEPS again, and possibly retake the ASVAB if it’s been over a certain amount of time since you took it. But overall this is promising. Best wishes!

  27. Robyn brooks says

    I have a friend that is asking me for 3700 dollars to get out of the military. He is stating that it is a circular for leave replacement fee to get out. Is this true? I’m not sure I believe it. He is in Afghanistan now. We have been texting through am app. I don’t want to be taken advantage of. Please help.

    • Ryan Guina says

      No, no, no, and no. Please don’t ever send money to anyone overseas. This is almost certainly a scam by someone who has no association with the US military. Never send money to anyone that is not your family member. It won’t turn out well and will only lead to heartbreak and a loss of money.

  28. Isa says

    Hello,

    My grandson has a BS and wants to get into the Army Reserve. I understand that he will be committed to be there for 8 years and 1 to 6 years of this will be served in active duty. Some body told me that the time that he would be in active duty will be compute as double time and also other assignments that will shorten the 8 years.
    Will be he able to get a top security clearance or just secret clearance? most of the jobs that he is looking at requires security clearance.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Isa, Thank you for contacting me. These are questions I don’t have specific answers to and are best directed to an Army recruiter. He or she will be able to dive into the specifics regarding service commitments, transferring from active duty to the Reserves, activating for training or mobilization, and career specific inquiries, including those regarding security clearances. I wish you the best.

  29. Moyo sode says

    I also have a question. I already have my BS in science. I just came in because I want to try it out. But it turns out I do not Like it as I expected. I am in the navy, I love doing my job and the people I work with. But I just don’t want to be here anymore. I am willing and honestly going to do my 4 years active, however, I don’t want to do my reserve time. I just want to get out and leave it behind me.. how can I do that.. thank you.

  30. Briana says

    Hi! Really hope you can just give me insight into something I am completely and utterly confused about:

    I enlisted into the Army in Feb 2013, so I have been in for 4 years now. From 2014-2016 I contracted with ROTC, which I’m no longer in, so I reverted back to my enlisted status. My issue is it feels like I am floating around with no one actually caring where I end up. I felt obligated to switch units from when I first enlisted because I joined ROTC. No more than a year at this new (2nd) unit where I was in ROTC status, I was kicked out of ROTC. This 2nd unit does not have my MOS, so I transferred to a 3rd unit. I have been at this 3rd unit for approx. 6 months. No one, not me or my readiness NCO knows my rank…on mypay it says SGT (from ROTC), the readiness NCO calls me SPC, and I last knew to be a PFC so that’s the rank I wear. After being at this new unit for 6 months or so, the past two months of drill I did not attend because of past knee issues flaring up, which a note was written by an orthopedic and I so thought to be excused. I received a letter 2 days ago, 2 days after drill via email that my LOA to the 3rd unit had been revoked by them because of my “medical condition”. For only having 2 years left in the Army, I don’t see a reason to bother trying to get medically discharged, although I can’t say I would not like to be out already. I had no idea I was never officially released from my 2nd unit! I was never informed on what to do! This is very frustrating and disheartening for me.

    Needless to say, my military career has been severely tainted by joining ROTC.

    Anyway, my few questions I’m hoping for some guidance or advice on are 1: how am I supposed to figure out my actual rank?! 2: Why is the transition after ROTC back into enlisted status so difficult and complicated? What can I do to fix this or at least simplify the process? 3. Is there a possibility in me separating early/voluntarily as you have listed above?

    Thank you for your time as you write back.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Briana, Thank you for contacting me. This is a very unusual situation, and not something I have a lot of specific answers to. It sounds like your rank wasn’t properly transferred after you left ROTC. Unfortunately, changes in status can cause problems for members of the Guard and Reserves. This was made more complicated by changing units.

      At this point, the best I can tell you is to work with your First Sergeant or your supervisor to get to the bottom of this. You can also contact your unit Human Resources or personnel section. Try to find the NCOIC or an Officer who knows the ins and outs of the system and work with them to get answers.

      Try to lock down you rank and your service requirements so you 1) know your correct rank, 2) avoid over or underpayment situations, 3) understand your service requirements so you know your current and future obligations.

      As for getting out early – I don’t have answers. It’s not easy to do without potentially causing more frustration and possible problems due to a negative discharge rating. Try to first work with your unit. Otherwise you may run into bigger problems.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  31. April says

    Hello, my husband is an SPC E4 in the army. His Mos is hazmat. He is attached to a calvary scout troop that doesn’t require his job. They throw him on all the details they don’t want to put their other guys on. He has been in for 3 1/2 years and his ets date is May 2018. In his time here, he has trained for his actual MOS for one week. He is currently seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, group therapy and a chiropractor for scoliosis. We are very unhappy here and have decided to try getting out. He has already failed 3 pt tests and they should have started the chapter paperwork. They told him yesterday they want him to take a 4th test at the end of May. If he didn’t cooperate, they are going to demote him, take his pay, and give him 45+ days extra duty. We have a 9 month old baby and my income won’t cover any of our bills. If they take this action, we will loose our home and my daughter and i will be forced to move back to Massachusetts with my mother and my husband will be left here in North Carolina. Our current situation is now effecting our marriage. What can we do? He tried changing units or training for his job but was told “we don’t have time or men for that.”

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello April, Thank you for contacting me. I don’t recommend people try to fail their way out of the military. It’s never a good idea, and it can actually make things much worse in the process. Instead, it may be a good idea to try to volunteer for a special duty assignment, an overseas assignment, or talk to a career counselor about options. Unfortunately, these negative marks on his record may make it more difficult to be accepted for special duty assignments or other duties.

      Another option may be applying for a transfer to the National Guard or Reserves. That may allow him to find a new unit that needs his MOS, and will give him the opportunity to continue his service.

      Cross-training into a new career field or MOS may also be an option. Again, negative remarks on his record will make this more difficult.

      Finally, try working on self-development, such as taking classes or certification courses, volunteering for additional duties, or anything else that can help make the best of a bad situation.

      In all cases, I recommend service members to always do their best. This will always give people more options. I wish you and your family the best.

  32. Ashley Delgado says

    My husband finished tech school and He’s at his first duty station but He hates the career field the recruiter choose this job for him it’s like He got tricked into being a cop is it possible that if he fails the eoc test he can get trained to a different career field or would they discharge him?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Ashley, Thank you for contacting me. This is often handled on a case by case basis. I wouldn’t risk it, as he is just as likely to be kicked out as cross-trained. The better course of action is to finish out the initial enlistment and try to cross-train near the end of his first term. That is the easiest time to cross train.

      I wish you both the best!

  33. anna says

    my boyfriend has been in the army for a bit and he is in ait school or something like that. (i’m not really sure about anything that involves the army) i just know that he really wants out. he talked to everyone there about leaving or seeing how he could possibly be able to leave, but no one has said anything back. instead they have just given him a hard time and have been making fun of him. and i get it that’s probably what they all do to people who want to quit, and i get it that he signed up for that and stuff, but i just need to know how he can get out.

  34. Vai says

    Hello, I am interested in joining the Reserves. I have been told that contracts are six years, one weekend out of every month and fifteen days a year.
    If I serve extra weekends during the year, can I get out earlier than six years?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Vai, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The six-year commitment is for six calendar years, not for the cumulative number of days served. I recommend speaking with a recruiter to help you understand the commitment requirements. They should be able to walk you through the answer to this and all the other questions you have. I wish you the best with your decision!

  35. DeAngelo Ravenell says

    Hello my name is DeAngelo Ravenell. I am 19 years old and am not in the army. But I really want to go into the Army Reserves. But, I don’t know much about what I’m getting myself into and don’t know if I could make it or not! I would like to know the (numerically) stages I would have to go through? Like 1. How many days of basic training, and then so on.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello DeAngelo, Thank you for contacting me. These questions are best suited for a recruiter. But in general, you would attend basic training, then your technical training (how to learn your job), then you would proceed to your duty assignment. Most Reserve units serve one weekend a month, and have two weeks of duty each year. They may also have additional service requirements such as training, exercises, deployments, mobilizations, and other times when you may be called to duty.

      I cannot comment on the length of training. Basic training will be the same for everyone, but each technical training course (Advanced Individual Training, or AIT) is different for each Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), and each unit may have different requirements. Your recruiter can answer these questions for you. I wish you the best with your decision.

  36. James says

    Thanks for sharing that I was discharged June 2016 I regret it now I was in battalion 1month, i was a volunteer to discharge. I want to renlist but I have to wait two years and I don’t know if there let me after my prior service check.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello James, Sorry to hear it didn’t work out as you had hoped. I don’t know the recruiting regs, so the best I can say is to contact a recruiter and ask about your options. You may also want to look into the National Guard or Army Reserves, or look into the other branches. Just keep in mind that it can be difficult to go from Guard or Reserves to active duty. So if you want to be on active duty, then you may have to stick it out and wait the two years. I wish you the best!

  37. Nicole says

    I am currently in the Air National Guard. I enlisted from 2014-2020. I am possibly attending law school next year in a different state full time. I hear different stories about transferring units. The unit must have a slot for you. My concern is if the unit doesnt have a slot for me, can I go inactive until I finish school. Also, if I go inactive status, do I have to make those years up or will my contract still end 2020. Thanks!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Nicole, Thank you for contacting me. I would contact a recruiter at a unit near your school. They should be able to tell you if they have jobs in your MOS, or if there is something related. It may be possible to cross-train into a new MOS, provided you are qualified and are able to attend the training course.

      You may also inquire to see if they have any programs that will help pay for your legal schooling in exchange for serving as a JAG or legal officer upon completing your legal degree. I’m not sure if the Army currently offers this, but it would be worth looking into.

      Finally, I’m not sure how going into inactive status works. You would need to speak with your recruiter or retention office to determine if this is an option, and if so, how it would impact your contract to serve. The best thing to do is start researching this now so you know your options and have time to get started with the process. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  38. Jason says

    I am currently at 16 years and considering getting out of the military. I’m already on a indefinite enlistment. Basically it seems as if the branch manager whether the current or previous one has always ******* me out of orders. I would by now towards the later end of my career I would given somewhat of a choice in where i’m going. My second to last duty station was going to be a AIT platoon sergeant in Monterrey Bay, California at DLI but then a month later it was changed to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. I immediately called up my branch manager and was told all the spots were filled in California. However I did have a pinpoint assignment and had it on my ERB. Now my new assignment doesn’t show up anywhere in my records yet with the exception of my ASK. I would see people get out of the military after 4 years and make more than me already. I’m seriously considering getting out and doing the same as I think my experience would fully justify this. Although there are other reasons but this is one of the big ones. What is the best way to get out of the military under an indefinite enlistment?

  39. Airman says

    Question, here you are in the Air Force Reserves serving about 19 years with 1 year to retirement and you have to re enlist. You say to yourself I will enlist for 6 years and after 20 years I can get out early if need be. One month after the 20 year mark you decide it’s time to go, but your unit was tasked with a 180 title 10 Deployment and you have preliminary picked to go. You put in your request to retire and it was denied because you have been tasked to deploy 1 year from that date. The retirement center states the New Secretary of the Airfare re-wrote the policy if your are tasked to deploy and told verbally even though it is 1 year from now you must go and can retire 30 after return. When reenlisting and signing the contract the AFI stated you could retire in lieu of deployment and mid stream of contract the Fine print was changed to state only after return from deployment. At what point can you change the terms in the middle of your agreement any hold you to the fire to deploy. If these where the terms maybe one would have exercised a two year enlistment and not had retainability and may not deploy.

  40. Melanie says

    My husband is air force and can get a job with Lockheed Martin. They won’t consider his application until he’s at terminal leave. The question is if he’s not hired, can he finish his contract with the air-force?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Melanie, Thank you for contacting me. Terminal leave is leave that is taken at the end of one’s contract. If your husband is on terminal leave, he has already committed to leaving the military. I don’t know if it is possible to “cancel” terminal leave and reenlist or otherwise extend one’s contract.

      The best course of action is to speak with the Lockheed Martin Human Resources official and speak with his personnel center so he knows what is required by Lockheed Martin, and what his options are on the Air Force side. I wish him the best in this career crossroads!

  41. Al says

    Hi Ryan, I was given the option to be discharged from the AF with an ELS earlier this year after being washed out of a special operations job and made an emotional/stupid decision to take it and leave. After a lot of time reflecting, I regret my decision and have the desire to rejoin in the ANG. Do you think I have a chance/have you heard of anyone in this situation being able to rejoin? If so how long/what is the process? Thank you.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Al, Thank you for contacting me. The best I can say is to contact a recruiter – they should be able to answer all your questions about whether it would be possible to join the military again. I wish you the best!

  42. Chelsea says

    Hello,
    I am trying to find information for my fiancé regarding his separation from the Navy, and was hoping you could point us in the right direction. He enlisted and fulfilled all of his active duty. When he got back home the remainder of his contract required him to do some reserve time. The first weekend he met with the reserve he expressed that he was happy to be done with active duty, and glad to be back home, and they procedded to tell him they would activate his reserve unit and send him back over seas the first chance they got. He was very putoff by this and expressed he did not want to complete his reserve time if they were going to send him back to Afghanistan, and did not want to come back. So, he never completed the rest of his reserve time, was never again contacted by the Navy, and never received any sort of discharge or separation paperwork. He did try to go into a recruitment center later and told them the situation and tried to get information about his status, but they couldn’t give him any information…So my question is how can we go about finding out what his current status is in the Navy, or if he is still required to complete his reserve time? He doesn’t have any of his enlistment paperwork or any paperwork from the Navy, so I don’t even know where to begin. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Chelsea, Thank you for contacting me. A good place to start would be contacting the Navy Personnel Command. Here is the page regarding Navy personnel records.

      He should request a copy of his records. He should also contact them and ask if there is anything he needs to do regarding his service. I hope this points you in the right direction.

  43. T.J. says

    Hello, thanks for the great article. I was wondering if you knew anything about the dependency discharge. I can’t find much about it online, and what I have found is a little confusing. I’m about to join the Air Force. I’m very excited, but the one thing holding me back is that I’m the one who would be taking care of my 9-year-old brother if anything were to happen to our parents. I want to be pretty certain that I’d be able to come home and raise him if something that awful were to happen. Do you know if the military is difficult about giving out dependency discharges? My fear is that they wouldn’t allow it because they would assume that he would go to my two other brothers (who are around the same age as me but not yet capable of raising a child). Legally, he would go to me. But does that mean anything in the eyes of the military? I know this is a big ‘what if’ but it would make me feel better to know as much as possible about it. Thank you for your time!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello T.J., Thank you for contacting me. The reason you aren’t able to find much about this on the Internet is because each case is handled individually. The military requires members to have a family care plan. A family care plan is not a big issue if you are single and have no dependents. But things change if you suddenly have dependents.

      If you were to become your brother’s legal guardian, you would need to visit your personnel department and fill out a new family care plan. It may be possible to continue serving while raising him (there are single parents in the military). But you would need to have a plan in place if you were deployed, sent out of the area on a temporary assignment, or otherwise couldn’t care for him on a day to day basis. (The plan would require you to provide contact information for someone who could care for your brother if you were temporarily out of the area).

      The military would review your family care plan. If your plan is acceptable, nothing changes and you continue serving. If the plan is unacceptable or there simply isn’t anyone who can care for your brother, they may recommend separation from the military.

      Should this prevent you from joining the military? I wouldn’t let a big “what-if” like this prevent you from joining the military if you are otherwise ready to join. The odds of something happening to both parents seems very small. And as time goes on, the likelihood of other care options increases, as your other siblings would be older, as would your younger brother. You may also get married at some point in the future and have a spouse that could offer care. There are many unknown possibilities.

      If you are set on joining, then join. You can always cross the family care plan bridge in the unlikely event something happens that requires it. I wish you the best with your decision!

  44. Victor M. says

    Thank you. I really needed this. I’m currently in tech school, and I just found out where im gonna be PCSing to. I got the absolute short end of the stick. I just needed to hear something about the situation I’m in. All I can think of is my family back home, summer, my truck, all the things I’m missing out on.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Victor, I wouldn’t let the location of your first assignment scare you out of the military – you haven’t really been in long enough to experience what the operational military has to offer. Getting out now will make you wonder what you missed out on, and you’d most likely never have the chance to get back in later. You would also be giving up a ton of military and veterans benefits, including the GI Bill, the VA Loan, veterans preference for federal employment and a variety of state benefits.

      Life is challenging – both in and out of the military. So face it head on. Defeat the challenge instead of letting it defeat you. You will be much better off for it.

      As for your first assignment, you may be surprised to find that you enjoy it. Some places don’t sound appealing on paper, but they turn out to be much better than expected. Even if it is a bad location, how you react to the location and your assignment will determine your success or failure, whether you like it or hate it. You can use the time to travel, save money, start and possibly complete your college education, and much more. Your next assignment might be right around the corner, and it could be a dream assignment. The military is an adventure. Don’t give up on it before it really even starts. I wish you the best!

  45. Myrna says

    Is it true that that a soldier needs to pay the Army for wanting to retire before his contract expires?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Myrna, Thank you for contacting me. Yes, it can be possible. A servicemember may be required to repay part or all of a bonus or other form of pay they may have received as part of a contract if they don’t fulfill the entire contract term. This is on a case by case basis. One would need to speak to their personnel department or base legal office for full details.

  46. Jones says

    Hi Ryan , my friend in AIT used his battle buddy’s card to buy a computer and the MIlitary police are looking to charge him …. But he asked for a lawyer they might have prove that he did tho …. What do u think would happen to him since he is still in the early stages and not AIT yet … Please reply thanks

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jones, Thank you for contacting me. I can’t give specific answers because I’m not a lawyer, and I can’t guess what will happen. In general, the military police will conduct their investigation. If they determine a crime was committed, they will either press charges on the military side or they will turn it over to the civilian courts, depending on jurisdiction. Then the case goes through he courts and they decide the outcome. I won’t comment beyond that, since there is no way to guess what the outcome might be. The best thing he can do is work closely with his lawyer. His lawyer will work for the best possible outcome.

  47. Scott says

    Ryan,
    This is a pretty informative article for someone with a small amount of time in. I have about 13 years in however, and I have an opportunity to be employed with a federal agency. I have several reasons to support my reasons for transferring to a federal job and serving the nation in a different way. I did sign a contract, but the with the cuts being made I would think the DoD would be glad to let one separate early if they so choose.

    I am on my final re-enlistment (indefinite) and I have to say that I think I might have made a huge mistake by re-enlisting. The overall climate in military is drastically changing and not for the better. There is no sense of leadership or purpose, this is not just my opinion but the majority in my very small career field. All the Army is concerned about at the current moment is the blown out of proportion Sexual Assault Prevention program and cold weather training. While sexual assault is unacceptable, when comparing numbers in the military to the rest of the population, we are doing well with the estimates of unreported cases.

    I literally have no potential for promotion as for the first time ever in my MOS, HRC promoted ZERO SSGs to SFC. That in itself is not a huge deal, there is always next year right? Wrong. We are reducing our force by 34 percent by FY17 and restructuring the available slots to accommodate the cuts. Promotion isn’t everything, but when you are doing the right thing and performing well you should expect some reward. I don’t think of sexual assault prevention training every other week as a reward.

    I guess my question is, being in my shoes, there must be another option other than just riding the time out and being miserable and watching everyone else doing the same. Do you know anything about the “Convenience of the Government” discharge”

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Scott, I don’t know much about the “Convenience of the Government discharge.” I know there is such a thing, but I do not know how to go about getting one. I understand your frustration as well. I know several people who have been in a similar position of not being able to be promoted. It’s unfortunate, especially when one performs above their current rank. I recommend visiting your personnel office to see if there is anything that can be done. I would also look into transitioning into the Guard or Reserves as a means to get out of active duty, and to continue your service and earning toward retirement. The Guard and Reserves are both very different from active duty, and you may find that you can enjoy working as a civilian in the federal government, and being able to continue serving in the military in a part-time basis. Best of luck with your situation, and thank you for your service.

    • joey says

      Where you’re at sounds a lot like where I’m at. I transferred from guard to active duty been up here almost a year now and its nothing like I expected. The guard officers and NCOs actually communicated and took care of their soldiers and got work tasks completed in a timely manner. I swear I’ve seen my old guard unit accomplish more in a 2 day drill weekend than I have seen my active unit up here do in a 5 day work week. I called my old national guard unit this morning and talked to a recruiter and he doesn’t know of a way for my to transfer back. He said the Army wouldn’t sign another DD368 for me. But he did say if I got out on a convenience of government discharge they’d send me home on honorable conditions. I’d keep my school benefits and he could start to get me back in the guard as soon as I got my DD214.

      If I would’ve stuck with the national guard I would’ve made Sergeant by now. I’m stuck as a Specialist E4 with slim to no chance of seeing Sgt E5 before this contract ends due to promotion points for my mos being so outrageously high. I went active duty to advance my military career because I loved and enjoyed what I did in the guard and wanted to be in the same atmosphere all the time. When I transferred I had every intention of doing 20 yrs active duty but definitely not now.

      Things are ran way different and not in a good way at all. There is no communication whatsoever. People get written up for the dumbest most innocent things, while others can get away with never showing up to PT or work. I felt like in my old unit if I had a problem I had 1000 places I could turn to for help. Up here I feel as if I can’t trust hardly anybody. I feel like there are only certain few I can depend on to have my back with a problem much less down range. This place is horrible and its messing with me bad. I really don’t need to be here. I don’t want to adapt to be like the others. I see here this is not the standard I love, know, and grew a passion for I don’t feel safe to ask anyone I know here for a way out with out there being some sort of “repercussion” if you will…

      I feel like someone would try to help then set me up I’ve seen too many wishy-washy actions and talk up here I need out ASAP. If I knew I could smoke weed and get kicked out and the guard would still take me back I’d do it. But that’s the only reason I don’t to be completely honest. I don’t care if I get an other than honorable this place is that bad. The only thing that keeps me biting my tongue and standing is I want to go back to the guard after I get out of here. So if anyone has any information that would be beneficial to me for getting out it doesn’t have to be a way to transfer, I can just get a discharge and go home as a civilian and my recruiter would have me back in in no time. But if you know of a way to transfer that works out perfect either way. It doesn’t matter to me if you know ways to do both please inform me that way if one doesn’t work I can try the other. If you know of anything that would seriously work I’d be real appreciative. If you’d rather email me information on this that’s fine by me. So it is not abused nynabiz00 at gmail Thanks for taking the time to read my comment. I hope nobody else is going through this.

    • Jonas says

      COG Discharge is what they give you if they think it’s best for you to be separated. For example anything regarding any medical but non physical disability, suicidal, depression, behavioral and psychological issues etc.

  48. Dani says

    I just wanted to say thank you. My nephew recently joined and is now desperately wanting to get out, for no other reason but that things got hard.

    I will pass along this article to him and hope he gets some encouragement from it!

      • Kevin Jackson says

        The most common clause..Is defective enlistment agreement, Something I chose to use to seperate from Army under..Basically it allows you to separate because the branch of service cannot provide or will not provide the guarantee of job you enlisted for or circumstances that you nor them were aware of prevent you from having contract fulfilled..

  49. Heather says

    uhhh, I just read your article about getting out of the military early and you are incorrect, at least in 1994 you are. I was told I could get out within 180 days after enlisting. AND I DID. A officer (Pastor) told me about the clause and said he would deny it if I told. Did that change? Sometimes, in a job, you know within 3 months if it’s going to work or not. It just sounds like you are trying to get the person to stay in…. like most of the ******* officers

    • Ryan Guina says

      Heather, Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve never heard of a clause that allows military members to get out of the service without penalty within the first 180 days. So I can’t say whether or not it exists at this time (I’m sure a lot of things have changed in the military the last 21 years).

      If such a clause does exist, I’m sure that certain criteria must be met, such as a recommendation from an officer in either the chain of command, or at the recommendation of a Chaplain or someone in a similar position. If that is the case, this likely isn’t something that is well known, otherwise it would likely be abused, because let’s be honest, the initial part of military training isn’t always much fun. And it already has a high attrition rate. Publicizing an easy way out would likely cost the military a lot of money sending recruits through the receiving line, then right out the door. But I could see it happening on a small scale.

      Do I want the person to stay in? Well, I don’t know him and I’m not in the Coast Guard, so it would have no measurable impact on my life if he stayed in or got out of the service. But my answer isn’t based on what I want, it’s based on advice many people need to hear.

      This isn’t an isolated question – I have received similar questions from many servicemembers. Some people truly should move on with their lives for a variety of reasons (personal, professional, whatever). But some people just need a little guidance and encouragement. I try to remain as objective as I can, and offer advice based on personal and professional experience.

      As for the ******* officer part of your comment, you have a right to your own opinion.

      • Ryan Guina says

        It could be, John. There are many ways to get an Entry Level Separation, and it’s possible that her separation was classified as an Entry Level Separation. But I’ve never heard of anyone just being able to go to the Chaplain or anyone else to simply request a separation within 180 days of joining. The first 180 days of the military are among the most stressful for many new recruits, and offering the option of getting out when the new troop has only experienced training would be a very costly program, and would encourage too many people to jump ship before they had the opportunity to experience the operation military (which is very different from the training environment).

      • Nic says

        It definitely exists, my room mate in CM A school did exactly what they described. He just went through our LPO and up

      • Annie pasley says

        Do you have to pay to get out early sir. Because my husband said that he got to pay $500 hundred dollars ok.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hello Annie, Thank you for contacting me. The US military does not directly charge members to get out early. However, servicemembers must resolve any debts they may owe, such as an overpayment they received, or any bonuses they would not earn out if they leave the service early. Otherwise, there should be no charge to get our of the military early. Military members should speak with their Human Resources or personnel office to determine if they will owe any money if they separate early. The office will review their contract and work with their finance office to determine if any money will be owed upon separating from the military.

      • DSW says

        I got out early. Not sure if it’s the same clause, but there are many. Mine was to get out for college on a certain date. I think there were two different thresholds: 3 months at the CO level and above that require PERS, or at least some admiral.

        Also, you said enlisted people have food paid for by the government. That’s not true from an accounting point of view. Food is automatically deducted from an enlisted personnel’s paycheck.

      • Xylon Walker says

        I haven’t gone through basic yet and I really don’t want to do this I regret all of this. Is there anything I can do to get out with out destroying my life. Please for the love of god help me.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hello Xylon, I have no idea. I recommend contacting a recruiter for more information. If you don’t feel right asking your recruiter, then contact a different recruiter and ask the question anonymously.

        Also, it’s very common to get cold feet right before a major life event. Joining the military is a challenge. And it will change your life. But most people come out stronger for having faced the challenge head-on and overcoming whatever obstacles they faced. They grow personally and professionally and are often better for having faced down their fears.

        So I encourage you to take a deep look at why you are having cold feet right now. That may be all you need to do right now.

        Whatever you decide, I wish you the best.

      • Allan says

        Hi Ryan,
        I am with the army reserve. Although I hold a PhDit is difficult to get a job in the states. However, I am able to secure a job overseas in Africa. What are my options to remain in service while working overseas?

    • Ray says

      I am in the National Guard right now but I am in an inactive status because I am contracting overseas. I am authorized to be out here one year with another one year extension if approved. I was just recently told that my extension is being denied. Is there a way to be discharged based on my employment. I mean they are not going to be giving me a job when come back stateside. So how are they going to make me quit a job I do have to come back to no job?

      • Ryan Guina says

        Hello Ray, I don’t have a firm answer for you on this question – these situations are on a case by case basis. You may be able to ask for a hardship exemption, or hardship discharge. But it really comes down to unit needs. Sometimes a unit can’t support the long-term loss of a billet. They need to fulfill their mission duties as well.

        I would contact your First Sergeant, personnel section, and anyone else who can give you some insight into how this process works. It may be that they just want assurance you will return, so they can do long-term planning around their billets. They may need to fill your billet ASAP, and may not be able to go over on the manning document. There may be deployment plans and they need you. There are too many possibilities to speculate over. Talk to you unit, and try to work it out with them.

        If that doesn’t work, you may have other options, such as transferring to a different unit, requesting to transfer to the Reserves and an IMA spot which may allow you to fulfill your duties over a single month of full-time work instead of on a weekly basis, or something else. There are also Reserve units in Europe, which may be willing to take you. Inform yourself of your options and see what you can do. The more research and time you put into this, the better off you will be. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

    • Kyle Williams says

      Typically in today’s army if you’re under 6 months and you really want out bad enough and you do it properly, its possible. I seen several ppl do it in basic and AIT. And since you’re under 180 days, you will get an uncharacterized discharge and under 180 days you will not be a veteran legally or otherwise. After 6 months or after you get to your first station its increasingly harder, but still possible. If your Chain of Command are not unreasonable they will administratively separate you although you will likely get a general discharge. The worst course of action is to purposefully misbehave to force a discharge.

    • Elijah says

      Would you mind emailing me more about this topic? Ive been doing a lot of research about it and need some help. If you could it would be appreciated a lot .

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