Transfer from Active Duty to the National Guard or Reserves

One Route for Early Separation From Active Duty

Soldier looking at horizon
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Some of the armed services (such as the Air Force) allow personnel to request early separation to service in the National Guard or Active Reserves, under programs called Palace Chase and Palace Front. The other active duty services do not have specific programs but occasionally will allow you to request a discharge from active duty to serve in the Guard or Reserves under a Convenience of the Government Discharge.

The military can also use this provision when it would really rather that you get out, but doesn't have a basis to require your separation under any other separation program. For example, if you won the state lottery and became a multi-millionaire overnight, the services probably would not find it conducive to moral and discipline to have a 3-striper millionaire arriving at work every day in his private helicopter. In such cases, they would most likely gladly approve a discharge request under "convenience of the government."

However, in order to qualify, you must be within a designated time (usually one or two years) from your normal date of separation. Approval is certainly not automatic and approvals for transfer are generally based on the "needs of the service." In other words, if you're serving in a "shortage job," forget it.

Military Service Commitment

It may surprise you to learn that everyone who joins the military for the first time incurs a minimum eight-year service commitment.

It doesn't matter if you signed a two-year active duty contract, a four-year contract, or even a six-year contract. Your total military commitment is eight years. Whatever amount of time that is not spent on active duty, must either be served in the active Guard/Reserves (the program where one performs drill one weekend per month, and two weeks per year) or in the inactive Reserves (one doesn't perform drill, but can be recalled to active duty at any time for war, or national emergency).

More About Early Discharge from Active Duty

While you can easily get discharged from the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP), getting out of the military once you are on active duty and before your active duty commitment is up is no easy task.

The military can use Convenience of the Government provision when it would really rather that you get out, but doesn't have a basis to require your separation under any other separation program. Otherwise, there are limits to voluntary early separation:

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