It pays to stay in the Guard
By Chief Master Sgt. Michael Nelan,
152nd Maintenance Group
Suppose you went to a job interview at a local company and told them, “I would love to work here, but I only want to work two days a month and a couple of weeks per year, and, by the way, I also want you to pay for my college education and offer a pension plan that’s worth a million dollars when I retire!” I would imagine the interview wouldn’t last too long as the interviewer showed you the door. However, if you’re talking to a Nevada Air National Guard (NVANG) recruiter, they’ll welcome you with open arms and show you multiple career opportunities. Retention of well-qualified Airmen is a high priority for the Wing, so it’s important to stress the value that each and every Airman brings to the fight. If you’re someone who is considering leaving the Guard after your first or second enlistment, take a long, hard look at the benefits of staying in.
There are great benefits for members of the NVANG.
- Take advantage of the tuition waiver program. Even if you took advantage of it to earn your undergraduate degree, many of the institutions will continue waive tuition for advanced degrees. Be sure to check with the retention office before enrolling in a program.
- Textbooks can be expensive, get up to 100% reimbursement for textbooks purchased for your classes. Check with your Unit Career Advisor (UCA) for more information.
- The Montgomery GI Bill will pay $356.00 per month up to 36 months, if enrolled in college full-time (12 plus units/semester). You may also qualify for additional education benefits such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill. However, you must qualify based on active duty or Title 10 deployments. Check with Wing Training or your UCA for details.
- For members who serve 20 years of eligible service in the guard, the Legacy or Blended Retirement System (BRS), can qualify for a retirement annuity when you reach age 60. If you choose to serve 20 or more years, in the Legacy or BRS retirement system and depending on final years of service and based on your final grade/rank, you would have to save almost $1,000,000 or more in a retirement account or 401K type plan to receive the same income from your NVANG retirement benefit. The new BRS system will allow for matching Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contributions. You won’t get the pension benefit if you choose to leave the Guard prior to serving 20 years but your contributions and the government match are available to you for future retirement benefits. Take the time to run a BRS calculation for your personal situation. The calculation will show both the Legacy and BRS systems and give you an example of your future retirement benefits.
- Low cost medical insurance with TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) for drill status Guardsmen, who need medical insurance, is a solution to get high quality medical care at a low price. For members who are self-employed, or not covered by their civilian employer’s health plan, this a great benefit. Even if you’re covered by your employer’s plan, they may require you to to pay extra premiums for your spouse and children. Enrolling in TRS can save you money. Check with your First Sergeant or Family Readiness office for more information.
- Dental insurance through TRICARE Dental/United Concordia is a low-cost dental plan for reservists and members of the Air National Guard and their families. This is another low-cost solution and can help defray the cost of expensive dental work.
- Servicemember's Group Life Insurance can provide up to $400,000 low-cost life insurance to protect your family if you should die prematurely. The policy is fully active--meaning you are covered on, or off-duty.
We all joined the Nevada Air National Guard for various reasons. Whether we wanted serve our country, be a part of something bigger than ourselves, pay for college, learn a valuable skill, or open the door to new opportunities, it pays to be a member and it pays to stay in the Guard!