HomeHow Many Years Can...

How Many Years Can You Serve In The Military

Do You Claim Veterans Preference


Veterans Preference gives eligible veterans preference over many other applicants in the hiring process. You can use Veterans Preference when applying to permanent and temporary positions in both the competitive and excepted service . However, Veterans Preference does not guarantee you a job.

You must select one of the following options:

No, I do not claim Veterans Preference

Select this option if you dont want to claim Veterans Preference. Even if youre a veteran, you do not have to claim preference.

0-point preference – Sole Survivorship Preference

Select this option if youre the only surviving child in a family where your mother or father or sibling died, is captured or missing in action or is 100 percent disabled, while on active duty and NOT by intentional misconduct or willful neglect. Learn more about Sole Survivorship.

5-point preference – Active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces

Select this option if you served in the U.S. Armed Forces for more than 180 consecutive days, not including training. You must have served during specific time periods. Learn more about active duty qualifications and time periods.

10-point preference – Compensable service connected disability of at least 10% but less than 30%

Select this option if you have a disability rating from the VA, of at least 10 percent but less than 30 percent, due to your military service.

10-point preference – Compensable service connected disability of 30% or more

The Short Answer: Two Years With A Catch

Two years is the shortest amount of time a new enlistee can sign up for active duty, however, there is a catch. You actually have an eight-year commitment but you can perform this commitment as an active duty member, a Reservist, or Individual Ready Reservist .

This is a program but limited in scope compared to the majority of enlistments into the military:The National Call to Service – All of the services also participate in the Congressional – mandated National Call to Service Program. Under this program, following basic training and an advanced training school, a member spends 15 months on active duty , followed by a minimum of two years in the active Guard or Reserves, with the remainder of the total eight-year commitment in the IRR. However, all the services strictly limit the number of folks who can enlist under this program each year.

Enlist Under The National Call To Service Program

The National Call to Service Program is a three-tiered enlistment option available to those who have not served before, have a high school diploma, and earned an ASVAB score of at least 50.

Enacted on October 1, 2003, as part of the 2004 Defense Authorization Bill, it contains a unique combination of service requirements along with education benefits that open the door to those who would like to serve their country in a military and civilian capacity.

The enlistment obligation under this program is the same for all branches of the military 8 years. However, an initial shorter 2-year enlistment period provides more options and, in turn, attracts more people than the standard 3, 4, and 6-year enlistments.

But its not just a 2-year enlistment. The time spent on active duty depends on the length of initial training. The catch is, only 2 years of it must be served on active duty. The CTS program requires 15 months of active duty after initial training. The service portion of the program consists of:

  • First, after completing initial entry training , individuals must serve on active duty in a military occupational specialty for 15 months.
  • Without a break in service, serve an additional period of active duty, or 24 months in an active status in the Selected Reserve.
  • After 24 months, without a break in service, the remaining portion of the obligation will be served as follows:

Don’t Miss: Salvation Army Pick Up Los Angeles

Am I Eligible For Education Benefits Under The Mgib

You may be eligible for education benefits under this program if you meet these requirements.

One of these must be true:

  • You have a 6-year service obligation in the Selected Reserve, or
  • Youre an officer in the Selected Reserve and you agreed to serve 6 years in addition to your initial service obligation

Note: Your obligation must have started after June 30, 1985, or for some types of training after September 30, 1990.

And all of these must also be true:

  • You complete your initial active duty for training , and
  • You get a high school diploma or certificate of equal value, like a High School Equivalency Diploma or GED, before finishing IADT , and
  • You stay in good standing while serving in an active Selected Reserve unit

Advance In Your Career

Can you still remember your Drill Instructors name?. . Comment below if ...

In year five, you have a decision to make. You can move ahead in your Army career by getting more advanced education and training. If so, you will prepare for higher levels of responsibility, leadership, and specialization required as commanders. Eventually, you may even go on to earn a graduate degree from a leading civilian university.

The Army pays for all of your training, travel, and advanced education. You could eventually work in the Pentagon, command a large troop unit, or serve as a military attaché in a foreign country.

The other option is choose to complete your commitment and return to civilian life.

Check out West Pointers-The Journey Continues to learn more about graduates currently working in their branches.

You May Like: What Are Branches Of The Military

A Most Important Document

One of the key documents you must complete in your journey toward military retirement is DD Form 2656, Data for Payment of Retired Personnel which asks you to select:

  • Retirement pay options
  • Beneficiaries in the event of your death
  • Federal/State Tax Information
  • Survivor Benefit Coverage choices

You will need bank routing numbers and other sensitive data be sure you have your bank account details handy when filling out this form. You will be required to submit DD Form 2656 to your personnel center or orderly room.

Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News

Related Articles

Benefits And Considerations About Becoming A Military Attorney

Assistant Director, Pro Bono & Public Service, California Western School of Law

Many attorneys enter the profession for an exciting career and to make a difference in the world. From Abraham Lincoln to Mahatma Gandhi to Thurgood Marshall, history is full of attorneys who positively impacted the world. The law school process, however, unfortunately often leaves students feeling less empowered, burdened with debt, and pressured to get the best paying job they can. It doesnt need to be that way. Often, the most fulfilled attorneys work in public interest positions. While most law students and attorneys are aware of careers working with nonprofits and government agencies like public defender and district attorney offices, one path that students and young attorneys may not have considered is being an attorney for the military. Each of the five branches of service Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard has a Judge Advocate General Corps , and while the positions are competitive, young attorneys wanting a fulfilling, exciting career should consider applying.

Benefits & Considerations

In addition to the pride and satisfaction of supporting our armed forces, there are many upsides to joining the JAG Corps. While it is not advisable to cite these as primary motivating factors in seeking to join the JAG Corps during the application, some of the personal benefits include:

Application Process & Qualifications

You May Like: Us Army National Guard Recruiter

How Long Will I Serve

Enlisted positions typically require an initial service commitment of four years, but positions involving longer-term training may involve five- or six-year obligations.

Officerpositions typically require an initial service commitment of three to five years, but positions involving longer-term training may involve longer service obligations.

Us Coast Guard Age Limits

DNA: Agniveer to get preference in several central forces

The United States Coast Guard has over 40,000 active-duty personnel.

There are a small reserve fraction of approximately 7,000 members.

The Coast Guard also employs a sizable civilian workforce.

Overall, the U.S. Coast Guard is the smallest of the military branches .

Here are the minimum and maximum ages required to join the U.S. Coast Guard:


Minimum Age: 17 years old Maximum Age: 31 years old


Minimum Age: 17 years old Maximum Age: 31 years old*

*Up to 32 if qualified for attending guaranteed A School.

Don’t Miss: Https Mobcop Aoc Army Pentagon Mil

Requirements To Become A Sailor

To join the Navy, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 39 to enlist or be between 19 and 42 to become an Officer*
  • Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent or have a four-year degree from an accredited university
  • Have a qualifying score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test or the Officer Aptitude Rating and Aviation Selection Test Battery
  • Pass the Military Entrance Processing Station medical exam
  • Meet the physical, mental and moral standards of the Navy

*If you are not yet 18, you need parental consent to join.

Contact a recruiter to request more information about basic requirements.

Military Obligation According To Job

Each career in the military has a different service obligation. Your friends may have a 6-year contract, whereas you may have an 8-year contract. Below, we point out varying occupations that have unique service obligations:

  • Health Professionals

Maybe youd like to be a healthcare professional and researcher. Graduates of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences incur an ADSO of at least 7 years.

Those serving on active duty for less than 10 years shall serve in the Ready Reserve as follows:

For active-duty service less than 8 years, 6 years in the Ready Reserve. For at least 8 but less than 9 years of active duty, 4 years in the Ready Reserve. And for at least 9 years but less than 10, 2 years in the ready reserve. This stems from Federal law 10 U.S. Code Section 2114.

Learn more about Uniformed Services University and its schools of medicine, nursing, dental college, and college of allied health sciences.

  • Military Lawyers

Maybe youre intrigued by the movie A Few Good Men, or you were a fan of the JAG tv series. If youre interested in being a JAG Officer or Judge Advocate General as a lawyer, we have good news for you.

The pathway to becoming a military lawyer involves joining the military as an officer, attending the required officer training that lasts up to 11 weeks, and graduating from the Judge Advocate General School for your respective branch. Typically, a 4-year military service commitment is required for lawyers.

Don’t Miss: What Is The Sign On Bonus For The Army

Us Marine Corps Age Limits

The United States Marine Corps has 182,000 active duty service members.

Its a competitive military branch to join and the second smallest.

Additionally, the Marine Corps utilizes 38,500 reserve personnel.

The Marine Corps has straightforward rules for their age limits:


Minimum Age: 17 years old Maximum Age: 28 years old


Minimum Age: 20 years oldMaximum Age: 28 years old

Before Making Such A Major Decision Know What You Are In For

US Presidents Serving 2nd Term

InvestopediaForbes AdvisorThe Motley Fool, CredibleInsider

So you want to join the military. Whether you feel called to serve your country, service runs in the family, or you are largely drawn by the many potential benefits of joining up, deciding how to participate is a major decision. Besides which branch to serve in, you can choose to be on active duty or in the reservesand your choice will be life defining.

Here are the major requirements and benefits of each.

You May Like: Military Radio Communication Code Words

What Is A Veteran In Australia

Introduction. The majority of persons who meet the definition of a veteran are persons who have continuous full time service with the Defence Force of Australia during WW1 or WW2 or who were allotted for duty in an operational area after WW2.

How Long Will I Be Away From Home

Sailors rotate between sea and shore duty. You may spend three years assigned to a ships command and then rotate to serve three more years at a shore command. You will not be at sea during your entire Navy career. During your sea tour, you may live off-base nearby, but must be available to travel with the ship for deployments or training.

A typical sea deployment on a Navy ship can last anywhere from six to nine months. Ships typically deploy once every 18-24 months. In preparation for deployment, Sailors should be prepared to go to sea for 10 to 14 days each month for training.

Recommended Reading: Salvation Army Shelter Wichita Ks

Are You A Veteran After 2 Years

Any individual who was previously on active duty service in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, and was discharged for reasons other than dishonorable, are considered as veterans. 2 years of active duty service before being honorably discharged

This Period Is Also Known As The Retention Control Point

How much do you know about a transgender soldier dismissed from S. Korean military?
  • US Naval Academy

Stew Smith, CSCS, is a Veteran Navy SEAL Officer, freelance writer, and author with expertise in the U.S. military, military fitness, and its traditions.

In the military, throughout the career of a soldier, airman, , or sailor, members are expected to advance in rank and pay grade every few years. An enlisted person must be promoted within certain time frames during their career, or they must separate from the service. This is known as the “High Year of Tenure” . The Army High Year of Tenure program is called the retention control point

As long as you are not neglecting your duties and have not been in serious trouble, an enlisted person with more than six years of service and less than 20 years of service who is involuntarily separated is entitled to receive involuntary separation pay .

In short , if an Air Force E-4 does not get promoted to E-5 by the time he/she has 8 years of military service, the member will be forced to separate. These rules are strictly enforced especially during times of downsizing and force reduction.

Read Also: How Much Do Officers In The Army Make

S For Joining The Military

Start by doing some research about your options for joining the military. Learn about the six active-duty branches and their part-time counterparts. Know the main differences between officers and enlisted members. And explore the career fields you can enter for each branch.

Once you know which branch youre considering, contact a recruiter. A recruiter will give you an overview and answer your questions about that service. If youre interested in more than one branch, contact a recruiter for each. If youre interested in joining as an officer, the recruiter will explain any options you may be eligible for.

If you decide to enlist, you will report to a military entrance processing station . Youll spend a day or two completing pre-enlistment steps. These include taking the ASVAB, having a physical exam, meeting with a career counselor, and if youre accepted, taking the oath of enlistment. From there youll receive orders for basic training, usually to start within a few weeks. If you enrolled in a delayed entry program, youll go home and get orders for basic training within a year.

How Long Do I Have To Serve If I Join The Military

Raising your right hand to support and defend the Constitution of the United States is a task that should not be taken lightly. Joining the military is a commitment on the part of two parties the service member and the government. If youre contemplating being a part of the best and most dominant military force in the world, you may be asking, How many years do I have to serve in the military? The Department of Defense lays out the terms to fulfilling the military service obligation.

Every person who enters military service by enlistment or appointment incurs a military service obligationof 8 years, no matter whether its for active-duty or reserve components. But other factors can shorten or lengthen your time in service such as the way you enter the military, the service branch, and the job you choose. Today, Empire Resume will simplify the military service obligations or MSO for short.

Don’t Miss: How To Become An Army Helicopter Pilot

Eligibility For Military Retirement Pay

20 years is the basic length of a military career for those who want to qualify for military retirement pay. DFAS lists the following eligibility rules for qualifying. You may be entitled to draw U.S. military retirement pay if one of the following applies:

  • You served on active duty in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps for a period of 20 years or more.
  • You retired medically from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps.
  • You serve in a Reserve Component after having accrued 20 qualifying years of service time AND are age 60 or older.
  • Reserve Officers also may use service as a contract surgeon or acting dental surgeon to qualify for retirement through the Qualified Reserve Component where applicable.

Not all military service counts toward retirement. DFAS states the following service DOES count:

  • Active Guard/Reserve time

Requirements For Joining The Military

Military Push

The U.S. military has six branches of service: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Space Force. The requirements to join are similar for all six. The main differences are in age limits, test scores, and fitness levels. Men and women meet different fitness standards. Besides the requirements listed here, a branch may have other requirements.

Age Limits for Enlisting

You must be at least 17 to enlist in any branch of the active military. The oldest you can be to enlist for active duty in each branch is:

  • Coast Guard: 31

  • Space Force: 39

Some branches have different age limits for their part-time Reserve and National Guard. Visit each service’s recruiting website for its part-time age limits.

Requirements for Enlisting If You Are Not a U.S. Citizen

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to enlist in the military, but you may have fewer options. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must:

  • Have a permanent resident card, also known as a Green Card

  • Currently live in the U.S.

  • Speak, read, and write English fluently

Educational and Testing Requirements for Enlisting

You must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. The ASVAB has 10 subtests.

  • Your scores on four of those make up your Armed Forces Qualification Test score. This score determines which branch you may join. Each branch has its own lowest score for joining.

  • Your scores on all 10 subtests determine which job specialties you qualify for.

Health and Fitness Requirements for Enlisting

Also Check: Can I Join The Army At 30

Most Popular

More from Author

Read Now

Home Depot Register For Military Discount

How Do I Get The Home Depot Military Discount Home Depot 10% Military Discount UPDATE To enroll, visit homedepot.com/military/discount, or open the Home Depot mobile app on your smartphone....

Home Depot Military Discount Login

Another 16 Million Veterans Can Get Home Depots New Military Discount Year Home Depot Military Discount | Promo Code | Coupon Not Needed If youre seeking the 10 percent...

Swiss Army Watch Women’s

Victorinox Watches & Swiss Army Knives Victorinox Swiss Army Ladies' Maverick Watch (241609) If you love the distinguished look and elite functionality of Victorinox watches and Swiss Army knives,...

Does Oakley Have Military Discount

Quality Eyewear Is Worth The Cost What are the Best Military Boots ? Review: Oakley, Rocky, Nike ! The first pair of Oakleys I got was a gift from...

Salvation Army Donation Pick Up Las Vegas

The Best Salvation Army Las Vegas Pickup References Salvation Army donation debate rages as activist call out charity The Best Salvation Army Las Vegas Pickup References. Donations are critical...

Does The Salvation Army Pick Up Donations

What Can I Donate To The Salvation Army Salvation Army donation debate rages as activist call out charity Suppose I am planning to donate some clothes and other unneeded...

Can You Join The Military With Flat Feet

How Did Things Change Cant join the military with flat feet. Is that why JonBs feet look like that? You must have been wondering what lead to this huge...

Combat Jobs In The Army

Supply Administration & Operations Combat Engineers have one of the hardest jobs in the Army In this field, Marines perform ground supply administration and operations, including maintaining supply warehouses,...

Military Of The United States

Korean War And Vietnam War "The United States Army: 1775 - 1899" - A History of Heroes The Army of the United States was demobilized in 1946, but still...

Red Wing Boots Military Discount

Academy Sports & Outdoors Discount Code GFYM Work Boots Rock Rooster Red Wing Timberland Wolverine Academy Sports does not offer a year-round military discount, but they do occasionally offer...

Army Reserve Tour Of Duty

Congress Orders Army To Open Tour Of Duty Portal To Reserve Guard Troops US Army Reserve ADOS Program Since late 2017, the Armys more than 500,000 National Guard and...

Real Estate Military Management Services

Your Person On The Ground Military Makeover: Operation Career Featuring CENTURY 21® Although you can 99% effectively manage a property from afar, there are some things that need to...