The Oregon Army National Guard offers much more than just a monthly paycheck. While Guard pay is an excellent way to earn extra money, membership in the Guard offers many more tangible benefits.
You may be eligible for an Enlistment Bonus when you join the Oregon Army National Guard. To be eligible for the bonus you must join the Guard for a minimum of six years, have a qualifying score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, and enlist into a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that is on the current bonus list. Bonus amounts range from $7,500 up to $20,000, depending on the MOS. For the most current listing of bonuses, please Contact Us.
Your drill and annual training pay adds up to a great way to supplement your income. Combined, they total up to thousands of dollars a year to help pay off bills, buy a car, or fix up the house. These are just a few ways your Guard pay can provide you and your family a better quality of life.
As an example, in your first year in the Guard, you could earn:
Drills (one weekend a month) – $226/month X 8 months = $1,808
Initial Training (full-time) – $1,700/month X 4 months = $6,800
TOTAL = $8,608
Once you complete your initial training, you’ll begin working as a regular Guard member; one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. Here’s an example of how that pay schedule looks:
Drills – $226/month X 12 months = $2,712
Annual Training – (two weeks) = $850
TOTAL = $3,562
The National Guard is arguably the only part-time employer who offers a full-time retirement. Guard members who serve 20 qualifying years become a “Gray Area Retiree” until they reach the age of 60. Gray Area retirees are eligible for many of the same benefits as a full retiree.
Once you turn 60, you begin to collect retirement checks and enjoy the same benefits as active duty retirees. Retirement amounts are based on the number of retirement points you’ve earned during your career.
Another retirement plan available to Guard members is the Federal Employees Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP. TSP is a retirement savings and investment plan that offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans.
National Guard members and their families are eligible for exceptionally affordable health insurance through the Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) program. Average annual health insurance prices in 2012 were $5,615 for a single person and $15,745 for a family. TRS annual prices in 2013 are $619 for a single person and $2,350 for a family. That’s over SEVEN times less expensive than average health coverage.
In addition to low-cost health insurance, Guard members can also select life insurance through the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, or SGLI, program. SGLI is inexpensive yet comprehensive and covers you and/or your family 24/7 on or off duty. Current rates range from $5,000 of coverage for $4.25 a month up to $400,000 of coverage for $27 a month.
As you may be aware, most National Guard members serve part-time; one weekend a month and two weeks a year. There are a limited amount of full-time positions available in the Guard. These full-time positions are in two categories:
- Active Guard Reserve positions – These positions are very similar to active duty positions, only you would serve in Oregon. There are openings statewide in administrative, training, logistics and recruiting.
- Federal Technician positions – These positions are federal civilian positions that require membership in the National Guard as a condition of employment.
Oregon’s Joint Transition Assistance Program was established to help Oregon Guard members find good Guard-friendly jobs and careers. They can help with your resume and will do all they can to assist in finding a job or getting a better one. They can also advise and assist in pursuing higher education, to include apprenticeships, with the Montgomery GI Bill. There are program counselors located throughout the state.
In addition, the federal government has established the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. This program protects Guard members from discrimination by their civilian employers and provides assistance to Guard members who have Guard-related disputes with their employer.
Fly Free – As a Guard member, you can fly free on military transportation within and between the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico, whenever space is available. You may have heard of this referred to as “Space A” travel.
Veteran’s Administration – You may be eligible for VA home loans with minimum or no down payment. Working through private lenders such as banks, savings and loans, and mortgage companies, the VA guarantees loans for homes up to a predetermined amount. The VA can also eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance, saving you even more money.
Shopping – Shop tax-free at any military exchange (department store) and commissary (grocery store). A wide range of additional retail and lodging discounts is also available.
Tax Breaks – Oregon offers tax breaks for Guard members. You’ll pay no state income tax on the first $6,000 of active duty income you earn in Oregon, plus pay no state income tax on any active duty earned performing duty outside of Oregon. In addition, if you are eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing and rations, you will pay no federal or state tax on these types of income.