Frequently Asked Questions

Still wondering if the Navy Reserve is right for you? The links below will answer some of the most commonly asked questions as they relate to where you are in your decision-making process.

If you don’t find your specific concerns addressed in this section or elsewhere on the site, don’t hesitate to utilize either of the following resources to ask questions and get answers:

Go to the Navy Reserve Page on Facebook

Contact a Navy Reserve Recruiter

Talk to a Navy Reserve expert via Live Chat

PREPARING TO JOIN

What are the requirements to qualify for Navy Reserve service?

First, there are basic citizenship, age, health and education requirements that must be met to become a Navy Reservist. Some of the specifics can vary depending upon your background and whether you wish to serve as an Enlisted Sailor or an Officer. Therefore, it’s best to refer to the Qualifications & Commitment page featured in the section that best describes you as someone who is Serving Now, has Served Before or has Never Served.

What is the basic Reserve service requirement (monthly/yearly)?

Traditional Reservist service requires a minimum commitment of one weekend a month plus two weeks a year. Flexible drilling options can be arranged to meet these obligations. And there are also opportunities for additional service and pay.

How long will I be obligaged to serve?

If you’ve never served in the military before, the Navy Reserve service commitment typically ranges from two to eight years. If you have current or prior military experience, the Navy Reserve service commitment can vary depending upon a variety of factors. Therefore, it’s best to refer to the Qualifications & Commitment page featured in the section that best describes you as someone who is Serving Now or has Served Before.

Can I train close to home?

Yes. Your typical monthly drill training will almost always be with the Navy Reserve unit located closest to you, unless you serve in a specialized field that is limited to operating at certain sites. See a map of locations across the country.

Is there a chance of being deployed?

Reservists in any military service branch have the possibility of being deployed. There is no formula – it depends upon the determined needs and available resources of the military at any given time. But be aware that if you're a current or former Navy servicemember (NAVET), you can receive guaranteed initial deployment deferment for periods of up to two years when you affiliate with the Navy Reserve.

Can I talk to a Navy Reserve recruiter without obligation?

Yes. You can talk to a recruiter with no obligation at all, and you won’t be under any obligation until you actually sign a contract. We encourage you to gather all the information you can to help make an informed decision that is right for you and your family. That includes exploring this site and feeling free to contact a Navy Reserve Recruiter at any point.

Do civilian employers support Navy Reserve service?

Yes. In general, civilian employers highly value the leadership, discipline and technical skills Reservists acquire through their military service. Beyond that, Reservists have certain employment and reemployment rights that are guaranteed by law. The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) acts on Reservists’ behalf to foster solid working relationships between employers and the Reserve components of the military. Refer to the Employers page to learn more.

Can I join the Navy Reserve if I am a member or veteran of another service branch?

Yes. Experience in any military branch is something that’s highly valued and welcome in the Navy Reserve. You can look into joining the Navy Reserve through the OSVET (Other Service Veteran) program. In most instances, you’ll be able to retain your previous rate/rank and your pay grade will depend upon your discharge date. Refer to the Entrance Program, Entry Process and Rate/Rank Converter pages featured in the section that best describes you as someone who is Serving Now or has Served Before.

If I've served in the military before, do I need my military discharge paperwork to join the Navy Reserve?

Yes. The most important document you need to enlist in the Navy Reserve is form DD-214, which details your discharge from Active Duty or Reserve service. If you have yet to transition, make sure the information in your DD-214 is complete and correct. To obtain a copy of your DD-214, simply submit form SF-180 Request Pertaining to Military Records.

Download the SF-180 Form now.

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How do I obtain copies of my military records?

Individual military departments do not maintain files or records pertaining to individuals no longer on Active Duty. When an individual transitions from military service (because of retirement, discharge from Active Duty or death), his/her Field Personnel File (containing all military and health records) is forwarded for storage to the National Personnel Records Center (Military). The Records Center is under the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States Government. Please contact:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records

9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
USA
Telephone: 314-801-0800
Fax: 314-801-9195

Requests must contain enough information to identify your records among the more than 70 million on file at the National Personnel Records Center. The Center needs certain basic information in order to locate military service records. This information includes your complete name used while in service, service number or Social Security number, branch of service, and dates of service.

Can I join the Navy Reserve if I am not a United States Citizen?

Yes, if you want to serve as an Enlisted Sailor. But you must be a legal immigrant, be currently living in the United States, and have a valid visa or green card. Also keep in mind that the Navy Reserve cannot assist in the immigration process. In order to join, you must legally immigrate first then apply once you are living in the United States. The expiration date on your visa or green card must include your entire term of enlistment. As a noncitizen, you will not be allowed to reenlist beyond your first term of service, unless you first become a U.S. citizen.

Can I join if I'm a single parent?

Yes. Your recruiter will provide you with more information based on the number of dependents you have as well as other considerations. In addition, the Reserve supports your efforts with family services on many bases.

Can I join if I have health problems?

Perhaps. Due to the rigorous and critical nature of many Navy Reserve assignments, a medical condition may disqualify you for service. Health issues are generally handled on a case-by-case basis. And, as part of the entry process, you will undergo a pre-entry qualification physical.

How about vision – will bad vision disqualify me from the Navy Reserve?

To qualify as a Reservist, your vision will be evaluated at your pre-entry qualification physical. Individual ratings (jobs) have varying vision requirements for service.

What is the difference between Enlisted Sailors and Officers?

Enlisted Sailor generally refers to those who serve in an occupational specialty that requires a high school diploma (or GED) as a minimum educational requirement. Officer generally refers to those who have a degree from a four-year college or university as a minimum educational requirement and have gone through Officer Training (there are degree exceptions based on extensive service experience).

What is the ASVAB and what does it measure?

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a multiple-choice aptitude test that helps you identify which military occupational specialties are best for you. If you are considering becoming an Enlisted Sailor in the Navy Reserve, you must take the ASVAB test. Your score on the ASVAB is then used to determine the Navy Reserve position for which you are best qualified. The ASVAB is not required for Officer candidates.

What qualifications do I need to become an Officer?

To be an Officer, you must be a U.S. citizen; be a graduate or current student of a four-year college or university (type of degree accepted varies by specialty); be at least 19 years of age (maximum age differs depending on specialty); achieve a qualifying score on the Officer Aptitude Rating (OAR) exam; meet Navy physical standards; and demonstrate character, leadership and determination.

Will I have to cut my hair to serve in the Navy Reserve?

Men

Men must keep hair neat, clean and well-groomed. Hair above the ears and around the neck shall be tapered from the lower natural hairline upward at least 3/4 inch and outward not greater than 3/4 inch to blend with hairstyle.

Hair on the back of the neck must not touch the collar. Hair shall be no longer than four inches and may not touch the ears or collar, extend below eyebrows when headgear is removed, show under front edge of headgear, or interfere with properly wearing military headgear. The bulk of the hair shall not exceed two inches. Bulk is defined as the distance that the mass of hair protrudes from the scalp. Hair coloring must look natural and complement the individual. Faddish styles and outrageous multicolored hair is not authorized.

The unique quality and texture of curled, kinked, waved and straight hair are recognized and, in some cases, the 3/4-inch taper at the back of the neck may be difficult to attain.

Women

Women must keep hair clean; neatly shaped; and arranged in an attractive, professional style. Hairstyles with a maximum of two braids may be worn. Faddish and exaggerated styles are prohibited. Ponytails and pigtails are not permitted. When in uniform, hair on the back of the head may touch but not fall below the lower edge of the collar.

When wearing jumper uniforms, hair can extend a maximum of 1-1/2 inches below the top of the collar. Long hair, including braids, must be neatly and inconspicuously fastened; pinned or secured to the head presenting an attractive hairstyle; and may not dangle free under the front brim of the combination hat, garrison cap or command ball cap.

Afro, natural, bouffant and other similar hairstyles, which do not interfere with proper wearing of headgear, are permitted. Bulk is defined as the distance that the mass of the hair protrudes from the scalp. Hair coloring must look natural. Faddish and outrageous multicolored hair is not authorized. Visible hairnets may be worn only if authorized for specific duties such as hospitals or galleys.

INTRODUCTORY TRAINING

Do I have to repeat Enlisted basic training if I'm currently serving or an Enlisted veteran?

No. We value your military experience and will not require you to go through Recruit Training (Boot Camp) again.

Do I have to repeat Officer training if I'm currently serving as an Officer or have previously served in an Officer role?

No, but you may need a primer depending on your background. Basically, if you previously served or are now serving as a Navy Officer (NAVET), there’s no need to repeat the prerequisite training for commissioning. If you served or are now serving as an Officer in any other service branch (OSVET), you will have to complete a 12-day course at the Direct Commission Officer (DCO) School in Newport, RI.

Can I join the Reserve as an Officer if I'm an Enlisted veteran who now meets the requirements to become an Officer?

Yes. However, you must apply through the Direct Commission Officer Program and complete the prerequisite Officer training for commissioning.

If I don't have prior military experience, what type of initial training should I expect as an Enlisted candidate?

As a Navy Reserve Enlistee, you will be required to attend Recruit Training (Boot Camp) in Great Lakes, IL. This seven- to nine-week course will help transform you from a civilian to a Sailor, both mentally and physically.

How should I prepare for recruit training?

A strength-training program beginning at least six months prior is suggested. This will provide you with the physical strength and the mental toughness to enter Recruit Training with confidence. Suggested daily exercises should include a combination of aerobic training, crunches, pull-ups and push-ups.

If I don't have prior military experience, what type of initial training should I expect as an Officer candidate?

To become a Commissioned Officer in any career focus area, you will be required to attend the 12-day course at the Direct Commission Officer (DCO) School in Newport, RI. Here, you’ll learn the basic history, traditions and structure of the Navy and Navy Reserve, receive leadership training that will introduce you to the role of an Officer, and be prepared to apply your leadership skills as well as your professional expertise in your respective field.

SERVING AS A RESERVIST

What do Navy Reservists do?

The men and women of the Navy Reserve serve as a highly trained force available to meet the expanding needs of the Active Duty Navy. Meeting the same qualifications as those on Active Duty, Reservists provide the vital skills necessary to maintain national security and support our nation’s interests worldwide. Every day, you’ll find Reservists serving side by side with their Active Duty counterparts on station, on shore, in the air, at sea and on the drill deck. The roles and responsibilities of Reservists factor heavily into the greatest Navy force the world has ever seen.

What type of career opportunities are there in the Navy Reserve?

There are hundreds of different jobs in dozens of dynamic fields in the Navy Reserve. Just select your interest area in the Careers and Jobs section to get more information. The Navy Reserve is especially interested in candidates with military experience, career professionals, and those with special skills and training. If you have experience in certain fields, health care for example, you may be eligible for advanced rank and pay.

If I would like a certain rating (job), can I be trained to do that job?

Yes, in most cases. The Navy Reserve believes in trying to match your abilities with your desired rating. If you meet the entrance-level qualifications and open opportunities exist, the Navy Reserve will make a concerted effort to match you with your desired rating.

Can I change my rating (job) once I become a Navy Reservist?

Depending on the circumstances, this may be possible. Your request for change of rating will be considered if you are in an overmanned rating or the new rating is undermanned. To qualify, you may be required to pass a Navy-wide examination. You may also request direct conversion to another rating without an examination if you are qualified for your desired new rating and it appears on the open ratings list. Depending on the rating, additional schooling may be required.

What ratings (jobs) can women apply for in the Navy Reserve?

Women are free to apply for and hold any job in the Navy Reserve, with the exception of Navy SEAL and Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman positions that fall under the field of Naval Special Warfare/Naval Special Operations.

If I'm Enlisted, can I become an Officer in the Navy Reserve?

Yes. As an Enlisted Reservist, you can apply for the Reserve Limited Duty Officer Program or, if qualified, apply for a direct commission. To qualify for direct commission, you must be a U.S. citizen, possess a four-year BS or BA from an accredited university, and meet age requirements. Age waivers may be granted based on length of service. Some in-demand Officer specialties, including Medical and Chaplain, have broader age requirements.

Can I receive advanced training and schooling in the Navy Reserve?

Yes. There are excellent training and education opportunities in the Navy Reserve. If you qualify for training in a critical Navy rating, you can apply for coursework in the delegated Navy technical training school. Completion of additional schooling increases your opportunities for advancement and promotion in both the Reserve and your civilian career.

What happens if I'm a Reservist and need to move to another part of the country?

You can. The Navy Reserve has training locations nationwide – see a map of locations now. Simply contact the Navy Reserve unit nearest to your new home within 30 days of when you wish to transfer.

PAY AND BENEFITS

What are some of the basic benefits Reserve service provides?

Reserve benefits include four days’ basic pay for only two drilling days each month, two weeks’ paid Annual Training each year, and regular promotion and raise opportunities (same as Active Duty). There’s potential to receive a sign-on or affiliation bonus and the possibility of specialty pay in critical need areas. Plus, you can look forward to perks like advanced career/management training and educational assistance, low-cost life insurance and points toward retirement, tax-free shopping at military stores, and low or no cost recreational opportunities.

All this – while discovering the pride, purpose and satisfaction that only comes from serving your country, while expanding your knowledge and expertise, while enjoying adventure and camaraderie few will ever know.

How much do I get paid to serve?

Your pay and allowances will be determined by the same pay scale used by Active Duty Navy personnel. As a Reservist, you will earn four days of base pay for your two days of training one weekend a month. In addition, you will receive full pay and allowances for meals and housing during your two-week Annual Training and for any extended Active Duty service. To estimate your pay, use the Navy Reserve Pay Calculator and refer to the latest Reserve Drill Pay charts in the Benefits section.

How frequent are pay raises and advancement opportunities?

Reservists receive all general military increases in pay. Pay is based on rating and time in service. Advancement normally depends on a number of factors, including ability and performance, the needs of the Navy, time in grade, and the ability to pass advancement exams.

If I'm a current military servicemember or military veteran, can I join and keep my current or former pay grade?

In most instances, you’ll be able to retain your previous rate/rank, and your pay grade will depend upon your discharge date. Refer to the Entrance Program, Entry Process and Rate/Rank Converter pages featured in the section that best describes you as someone who is Serving Now or has Served Before.

Do I get health-care benefits as a Reservist?

Depending on duty status, Reservists and their qualifying family members may be eligible to receive medical benefits and dental benefits through TRICARE – the Department of Defense health-care program. Refer to the Insurance page in the Benefits section for more information.

As a Navy Reservist, am I eligible for retirement pay?

Yes. You will become eligible for retirement pay at age 60, following 20 years of creditable service (Active Duty with Reserve or Reserve alone). Retirement benefit amounts vary depending on individual pay grades and total Active Duty and Reserve time. Refer to the Retirement page in the Benefits section for more information.

How do I calculate my Reserve retirement pay?

The formula for determining retirement pay depends upon a variety of factors. Go to the Retirement page in the Benefits section to learn more about the system by which points toward retirement are determined.