Active Duty VS Army Reserves: Which is Right For You?

Should you go on active duty, or should you start as a reservist in the military?

Heck, should you even join the military?

There are many differences between the two, and there’s really only one person who can make that decision.

That person is you.

What I can provide is a comparison between the two and an opinion from someone who has experience on both sides of the field.

They are two completely different jobs, and both require a lot of thinking.

What might be better for one person might not be better for another, and that’s just how it is.

One-day option A might be your best bet, but things can literally change overnight.

So what is the best job for you?

Let’s go over some of the key players in your ultimate decision.

Goals in Life


The military usually comes to mind for those who are about to leave high school.

This specific group of young adults comes with the most options and freedom to choose.

For this specific demographic, you need to think about certain things.

What do you want to be when you really grow up?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

For me, these kinds of questions could never be answered, not even if my life depended on them.

I’m not a psychic, and I literally had no interests at the time.

Without any of that kind of stuff, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I also had no direction.

That only had me feeling that I had no choice and finding myself at good old Ft. Benning, Georgia.

Not only did I take the active duty route, but I decided to do it as a good old 11B Infantryman.

Now if you have some idea of what you want to do in life, then taking the reserve route might be better.

You might be interested in just the college benefits, or you might just want to make a couple of extra bucks as a part-time soldier.

You can also join as a reservist to see how you might or might not like it, but just know that the actual jobs are completely different.

Even if you join within the same MOS.

Personal Benefits

Without having somewhat of a direction on where I was headed in life, I felt that joining the active-duty military would help.

It didn’t help me decide what career path I wanted, but it did help me with my mentality on life.

I got a lot more disciplined, learned about responsibility, and learned how to appreciate all the little things in life.

Those lessons alone are enough for me not to regret joining as an active-duty infantryman.

Of course, I had deployments that weren’t the easiest but came with the biggest lessons.

The transition to civilian life might not have been easy as well, but it only helped me to see life differently.

If you want some direction and a lot of life lessons, active duty is the way to go.

As a reservist, you might learn a thing or two at basic training, but just remember that you will be heading back to the civilian world.

You will still need to find a job and you won’t get the same experience.

Personal Baggage

Kids play a huge part in whether you should join as an active duty service member or a reservist.

Some of you think about the monetary side of things, but that’s not what I’m thinking.

I’m looking more into the consideration of the time that you will or will not have with your family.

Of course, joining as an active duty service member will not give you that time and will probably have you gone a lot more.

Depending on how much you love your kids will help you make the wisest of decisions.

As a reservist, you still get the benefits of healthcare, shopping at the commissary, and getting some cheap gas.

Your pay might not be the greatest, but at least you won’t be away from your family that much.

Active duty personnel can get deployed for as long as a year at a time, while a reservist will most likely be gone for a whole month out of that year.

You do the math.


Now, when it comes to making money with the two, we all know that an active-duty service member will always make more.

More time, more money.

Now, what you need to consider is how valuable your time is and how much money it is worth.

As an active duty service member, you know you are going to get paid.

Not only are you secure, but you know it is going to be enough for you to cover those crazy bills.

Joe will always have spending problems and issues with finances, but that comes with the territory.

At the very least, you know you have a decent paycheck coming in every two weeks.

As a reservist, not so much.

You can expect one every month but in a much smaller amount.

Each drill pay depends on the MUTA and how long you will be “drilling”.

Some drills are one day and others will last all weekend and even more.

More days mean more pay, and for just a week’s worth of time, it’s actually not that bad.


This is questionable, but I think it is still a deciding factor.

Before I joined the Army, I was told that this was a great way to see the world.

This advice landed me in Iraq, and it wasn’t quite my idea of “seeing the world”.

Coming out alive and experiencing a culture that I can really appreciate, you can say that I was one heck of an adventure.

I got to see Germany, Ireland, Italy, lots of places in the Middle East, and some parts of Asia.

If I wasn’t on active duty, I probably would have never seen these places.

My time in the Reserves didn’t have the same crazy travel adventures, but I was able to see Hawaii and the Philippines.

Active duty will make you see lots of new places, while the Reserves will probably have you staying home most of the time.

The Choice is Yours

Once again, the decision is up to you.

Whether you decide to join one or the other, do know that basic training does not discriminate.

Whether you are going on active duty or joining as a reservist, you will all go through the same old basic training.

And if the Infantry is what you feel like doing, do expect a rude awakening.

Go with another job and you can have a much easier time in places like “Relaxin Jackson“.

Wherever the military takes you, be prepared to have someone up in your face with you being able to do nothing about it.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy yourself.

Oh, and don’t eat the cake.

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