Considering the Marine Reserves


September 16, 2003, 09:51 PM
Umm, yeah, i'm just about outa highschool and the info i signed up for just keeps poring in, and the recruiter even calls my house occasionaly. My question is for those who have served, whats it like? suppose i don't sign up for 4 years as regular grunt and just go it as a reserve? what strings are attached either way?? i'm pry not going to do any of their package deals with the college money or what not, so how does it work otherwise? i enlist and then what? are you there for a certain amount of time, how long, whats it like?? I'm just curious to hear it from you guys who've done it, because quite frankly i don't trust the recruiter totaly. any advice would be very much appriciated, about the corps or reserves. thanks in advance!

EDITED to add this-

Forgot to make my gun related question, what would a good occupation be to sign up for? i like mechanics, and anything that makes a loud boom :evil:

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September 16, 2003, 09:58 PM
I went into the National Guard out of HS and regretted it after about 2 or 3 years. One W/E a month 2 weeks per year.... gets old, gets in the way of your job (at least It prevented me from getting several promotions (try to prove it)). IMNSHO, join full time! Your stay will be shorter, you can reinlist, but you cannot take time off. I could go on forever, and I am sure people will disagree with me, but, if I could do it again I would go full time!

September 16, 2003, 10:15 PM
Whatever you decide to do, don't sell the 'package deals' as you call them, short. Right now, that college money may not look appealling, but in the long run, it will most likely be very beneficial to you.

I'm not knowledgeable about the Marines recruiting incentives, but I can enlighten you on some of the Army's programs.

One thing you should absolutely do is the Montgomery GI Bill program, along with the additional 'kicker' available for it. Under the basic GI Bill program, you contribute $1200 total, taken out of your pay for 12 months at the rate of $100 per month. In return, the VA pays you each month you're enrolled in an accreditted program after you leave the military. As of 01 OCT 03, the basic payment will be $985 per month, for 36 months, for a total of $30, 600. That's one heck of an investment return. The 'kicker' involves an extra $600 contribution by the servicemember, either lump sum or by an allottment of at least $25 per month. In return, the VA will pay you another $150 per month in addition to your normal payment, for an extra $5400 in your pocket. Basically, you invest $1800, and currently you'd get back $36,000. Each year, the amount the VA pays out goes up to cover inflation (or close to it anyways).

If you do go Army, they have a program called EARMYU. Under this program, the Army gives you a Compaq laptop, a printer, free internet access, free tuition, and books. You then have two years to complete 12 semester hours of college credits, or one normal semester's worth. If you fail to complete the 12 hours, the Army recoups their investment over 12 months thru payroll deduction.

The Army has several recruiting incentives you should be aware of. Whether or not you qualify for them is all based on how well you score on the ASVAB test. One is the cash bonus. The second is Station-of-Choice, which is when you pick where you want to go after Basic and AIT. The third is The Army College Fund. Under this program, the Army gives you more money to go with your GI Bill, so you can get both GI Bill and ACF. You can't get both cash and college fund, and you may not get Station-of-Choice and one of the others. They aren't likely to give you too much. One way to get S-of-C and cash is to volunteer for an overseas tour right off the bat. This is actually a good thing to do, might as well travel on the Army's dime. Also, other than Kosovo, few Army units stationed in Europe, and none in Korea are currently deployed to the Middle East.

If their is anything in particular you think you might be interested in doing in the civilian world, the same job can be found somewhere in the military. Heck, the Army Reserves has Railroad units. Of course, all the training options come back to how well you do on the ASVAB. Other factors affecting training availibility include demand for that job, time of year, dates training starts, when you are available to report for basic, and whether or not you're a HS senior or are already a graduate.

I hope some of this helps. Whatever you decide, good luck.


September 16, 2003, 10:39 PM
One of the biggest things to keep in mind is to make sure you have a specialty guaranteed before you leave for boot camp and that is reflected in your contract of enlistment. Don't go "open contract"(USMC)or "non rate/striker" (USN) or whatever the Army or AF call it.

If you fail to get it in writing beforehand, it means you may get to choose between just a handfull of undesireable specialties. Then again, you may simply be assigned an undesireable specialty.

I, too, would advocate going active duty rather than reserve. After you do your 4 years, and it goes by faster than you now probably imagine, then join the reserves.

September 17, 2003, 12:47 AM
I also would strongly suggest that you go active duty.

First, you are only 18 or 19 so 2 or 4 years sounds like an eternity but you'd be shocked at how fast it can go and the benefits are far better if you go active. Also, with today's situation, on a 6 year reserve enlistment you could easily have 2 years or more of active duty time. I'd rather just plan on it and then if you don't like the military you are out faster.

If you are at all unsure I'd say don't do it- this is a decision that can lead you into combat where you may well die and you should be aware and willing. If you are partly unsure but want to try it anyway then go into the Army. They still have 2 year enlistments, which really isn't a long time- look at it as a two year "trial period". In fact, if you go reserves, depending upon your job, you could well have nearly half that much active time for training anyway. In two years you'd be out and not have to worry about it if you didn't like it and if you did like it you can re-enlist. If you decide you like the military but you still want the Marine Corps instead of the Army nothing would stop you from switching at the end of your contract (you'd be surprised at how many former Marines, Airmen and Sailors were in my Army basic training unit so it certainly isn't uncommon, granted that was 14 years ago but I doubt that has changed).

September 17, 2003, 01:05 AM
You've heard it before, but I'm gonna say it again. Go active. Take the shortest enlistment you can get, get your MOS (Military Ocupational Specialty) in your contract before you raise your right hand. Then, if you like it, re-enlist or go Reserves. Pick something that has a direct civilian counterpart. The civilians don't have many openings for artillery, tank drivers, or snipers.
As for the Reserves, pick one. If you don't like it, change services. My Navy SeaBee unit has more ex-Army and Marines than it does previous active Navy.
And I am still kicking myself in the ??? for not taking them up on the education benifits. I would probably have a much better paying and satisfying job than I have now. Or at least have a backup career. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. YMMV, JMHO.


Edited to add:
No matter which way you go, once you raise your right hand, you have an 8 year commitment. Either active duty, drilling Reserves, National Guard, or inactive Reserve. Drilling Reserve, and National Guard, is the one weekend a month, 2 weeks active training a year deal. Subject to being called to active duty at any time the govt. thinks they need your unit. In-active Reserves you get no pay, but only have to keep your address updated, if you move. Can be called up, if your job specialty is REALLY needed in a war. Not likely to happen, if you don't pick a combat or language type specialty.

September 17, 2003, 01:26 AM
Since you asked about the Marine Corps reserves, here's the down and dirty.

You will sign a 6 x 2 contract, which means six years in the Selected Marine Corps Reserve and 2 years in Inactive Ready Reserve. That translates into six years of drills (1 weekend/month, 2 weeks/yr) and two years of no drills, but still available for activation.

After you sign up you will go to 13 weeks of boot camp then 10 days leave (vacation). Then you go to Marine Combat Training or School of Infantry depending on your MOS. After that you go to your MOS school and finally to your reserve unit.

You will NOT receive the GI Bill the active duty counterparts get, but will get the reserve one of which you will receive about $300 for 36 months (4 yrs x 9 month school yr).

MOS suggestions - if you like mechanics and loud noises, an artillery mechanic would probably be a good choice for you. If you like working on cars, there is motor transport mechanic. And if you just like loud booms, you can go field artilleryman or full-on infantry (rifleman, machine-gunner, mortarman, etc.). Above all though, whatever you decide, make sure you get it in WRITING on your contract BEFORE you sign anything. That is the best piece of advice you will get regarding the military.

You can (and probably will) be deployed for up to 2 years on an involuntary activation if the needs of the nation require it.

My advice to you?... Check your PM...

September 17, 2003, 02:20 AM
Although you mention the Marine Corps Reserves, it sounds like you haven't commited yourself to a particular service.

whats it like?...what strings are attached either way??...are you there for a certain amount of time, how long, whats it like??
These questions have no short answers. They depend on the service, your qualifications, and most especially your own outlook and attitude.

In general:

Short tours of service equal limited skill training. The service can't afford to train you for a year in some high tech or high civilian skill job only to see you leave in a few months.

If you're mentally and physically qualified to join, then you're qualified to succeed.;)


September 17, 2003, 02:39 AM
i have been in the marine reserves for almost 5 years now, and i will tell you, if you want to go to school and be a marine at the same time, go for the reserves. if you're unsure about the whole "active duty" thing, go reserves. you can always do active duty stuff while a reservist, but you can't go from active to reserves. the GI bill wasn't all that great, but it did give me enough money to help pay for my books and spending money each month. it's a good opportunity to do the military and still have a real life at the same time.

depending on where you're from will dictate what MOS's you will have available, that is unless you're willing to drive many many hours to go to drill each month.

September 17, 2003, 05:30 AM
Go active, spend 4 years learning about the real world and then decide what to do with your life, and have the money to go to school for it if you want to.

Go go for the GI bill and get any college money you can.

Just be firm with your recruiter and don't let him rush you to sign anything with out reading all of it first.

Reserves are all right. You still go to recruit training (like 16 weeks of hardship but chilled out some when I went through, from what I heard from a sergeant that's in the 3rd recruit traning battalion and Parris Island SC) and your MOS school, but after that it's back to the grind, and one weekend a month and two weeks a year of playing Marine. And you more than likely has to go to school for the reserve unit that is nearest you.

As for enlisting for 4 years active and 4 years inactive then it’s a different story. If the recuiter says that he can get you a certain job it had better be written on the last page of that contract, cuse all the words in the world will not make it so after you sign it. In other words if he makes a promise tell him you want it in writing and that your are not kidding, if he wants to meet his quota. Watch out for words Like "OPEN CONTRACT" or "SUPPORTING ARMS OPTION" in that contract unless you want Marine HQ picking your job for you based on your asvab score.

If you have any questions send me an email at

I know two Staff sergeants now on recruiting duty that are friends of mine and they could tell you the strait poop without getting smoke blown up your skirt.

just my .02

September 17, 2003, 07:22 AM
My brother joined the Marine Reserve at age 25. He drives hummers and 5 tons. He likes it quite a bit, but it does put a bit of a wrench in his life, not so much the weekend duty, but the two weeks a year does. He routinely looses most of his vacation because of it. (Yeah, he isn't supposed to, but there always seems to be scheduling conflicts...)

Also, while he hasn't yet had to go to Iraq or elsewhere, some of his guys have. So, the reservists don't just play weekend warrior, it can become the real deal, so keep that in mind.

My advice is what I should have taken myself at HS Graduation time. Go Active. Get the college money. If you have any technical or high skill asperations, try to get that now, it's a big help when you get out. I really should have joined myself. I feel I wasted most of my twenties wandering job to job before (at 30 now) getting into a career.

September 17, 2003, 09:51 AM

It's been mentioned earlier that not all the jobs in the military have civilian counterparts. This is very true! When I was in the process of getting out, I started looking at a few publications regarding military jobs and their civilian counterparts, or jobs that certain military skills prepare a soldier for in the civilian world.

Most of the time, under the combatarms MOS's (which I was - Infantry and Artillery), I read :"...has found success in sales." So, their point was, a grunt can sell used cars, insurance, whatever, but their rarely qualified for much of anything else. About the only other thing you would be qualified for is law-enforcement or security.

Find a job you like that you can turn into money on the outside. Yeah, it can be fun to be Force Recon, a Ranger, or a hard-charging lightfighter, but you can't do that forever. Eventually, your knees, feet, back, etc., will give out and then what? If you learn a trade such as computer programming (Army MOS 74B), or some form of mechanics (automobile, aircraft, generator, etc.), you can make good money just about anywhere you go, and be able to do it forever.

Best of luck.


September 17, 2003, 10:00 AM
cookhj and I are in the same reserve unit; I've been in for about 5.5 years.

I would say that if you don't have anything you're aiming for now such as further schooling or a job, go active duty. If you've got something else you want to do, but still want to serve, go reserve. As cook said, it's pretty easy to be a student and a reservist at the same time; both of the units I've been in had a high proportion of students.

If you go active, I would recommend you look for a MOS (job) that will apply in the civilian sector, this will make it easier to transition to from the Corps to the civilian sector when you get out. You said you like mechanics; working on motor transport assets (Humvees and 5-tons) would be ok, but from what I understand, HE (Heavy Equipment) mechanics make more money once they get out because working on heavy earthmovers/ Caterpillars is a higher skill-set than working on a Chevy. Working on aircraft engines might be worth looking into as well.

If you're going Reserve, look at the units in your area at this link (, and pick one that does something you think you might like. If you need some help translating any of the abbreviations on that page, let us know here, or email me. Consider also that every unit will have a HQ section, which will work as the catch-all platoon for all Marines that do not have that unit's MOS. For example, in our Combat Engineer unit, we've got 3 platoons of combat engineers, and a HQ platoon composed of admin personnel, Motor T and HE mechanics, Motor T operators (drivers), supply clerks, radio operators, and armorers. So even if youre not interested in what the bulk of the unit does, you can get in with a reserve unit close to you by choosing one of those MOSs. Another side benefit to choosing one of the HQ-type MOSs is that if you move, you won't have to go back to school and be re-trained in a new job. For example, I'm a radio operator, just about every unit in the Marine Corps needs them, which makes moving easy. However, were I a combat engineer and I moved, the new unit would probably send me back to school to be trained in something that the new unit needed.

Lastly, a few words regarding choice of service. If you are truly set on what you can get out of the military, don't enlist in the Marine Corps. The Army and the Navy will have much better incentive packages for money they give you for various reasons (including education), and the Air Force will have much better living conditions and perks. You can get some benefits from my Marine Corps, and are eligible for the G.I.Bill just the same as the other braches, but the best perk is that you earned the right to wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and call yourself a Marine; that is something that will you will be for the rest of your life, regardless of when you leave active service.


September 17, 2003, 10:33 AM
What are the physical requirements (minimum weight, eyesight, mile time, pushups, pullups etc.?)

Skunky -- Computer Technician Elite

September 17, 2003, 11:26 AM
i don't know the weight limit, but it's weight in proportion to your height. i don't know about the vision either, but i have seen some BLIND people in the military. it depends on your MOS. the PFT (physical fitness test) is:

3 mile run
max: 28:00


min:40 (i believe)

however, if you only get the minimum on all three, you still fail. the maximum numbers give you a perfect score of 100 to make a total of 300 possible points.

September 17, 2003, 12:58 PM
Skunk, the above are to exit boot camp. To enlist, it's pretty much a reasonable liklihood that one could pass the PFT.

For lard, IIRC it's no more than 20%.

September 17, 2003, 01:56 PM
Wow, so my scrawny butt is good enough for the USMC? :uhoh:

5'5", 120lbs fully loaded with P7M8, 2 mags, Surefire, Emerson, wallet, keys and cellphone.

Pullups are a piece of cake since I don't weigh much :p How heavy a ruck is one expected to march with? Proportional to weight or n lbs no matter what?

September 17, 2003, 02:43 PM
Hey Skunk,

You and I are about the same size and if I can make it in the Corps, so can you!

The Corps is equal opportunity when it comes to carrying packs. Everybody gets an opportunity to carry an equal amount no matter how big or small, tall or short you are. Really sucks for us short folks, but that's how it is. Don't remember exactly how heavy the packs are, but I'd reckon all the gear is at least 60 lbs for a "hump."

September 17, 2003, 04:35 PM
your total gear weight (ruck, LBV, kevlar, flak, rifle, camelbak) can total between 100 and 150lbs. if you're a heavy machine gunner (ma deuce or Mk-19) or a mortarman, you'll be carrying a lot more weight. then again, it also depends on the mission requirements.

September 17, 2003, 07:24 PM
Skunk, a buddy of mine made it through BUD/s at that size and weight and I've seen smaller Marines. You'd probably put on some weight in USMC boot camp.

September 17, 2003, 08:13 PM
come on skunk, you know you want to be a part of the few, the proud.

they issue you cool gear.

you can be "tactical."

and blow stuff up.

and shoot weapons that are illegal in cali. :neener:

September 17, 2003, 08:53 PM
Thanks to all of you that have shared your knowledge and experience with me, i'll write a better responce to this later, but at the moment things have come up that require me to scramble. see this thread-

September 22, 2003, 11:53 AM
What's the longest distance one would run in boot camp? Just curious :o

September 22, 2003, 12:29 PM
I *think* it was a 7-8 mile beach run about a week or two before graduation.

September 22, 2003, 02:14 PM
Typically, you'd run 3 miles three or more times a week in a normal unit, since that's the length of the PRT run.

Here's something that might interest you in preparation:


September 22, 2003, 03:21 PM
BigJake, if you do enlist (active or reserve), could you please, please, please make a call to my recruiter first? I'm in the Delayed Entry Program, and if I get one more person I'll be going in E-2 instead of E-1. Of course I should be getting that anyway because of my college credits, but for some reason the Corp doesn't accept a GED earned from a home-schooling program as valid. I find this ironic since my school: had a 2:1 teacher to student ratio, used the best textbooks and videos available, had a lot of parental participation (they were the teachers), and was comepletely attuned to me. And yet they judge this lacking when compared to the public school system, which routinely gives diplomas to functionally illiterate students.

Edit: I know the call might be long distance, so I'll be happy to send you a postal money order for whatever the charges might be. Should you be interested, please give Ssgt. Larry Ortiz a call at (480) 835 - 8907 or on his cell at (480) 250 - 8148. Tell him Recruit John Handley sent you. I would tremendously appreciate it.

September 22, 2003, 03:47 PM
The parts about not being able to make a head call scare me more than anything else :uhoh:

(gotta find a GI doc about ::o

September 22, 2003, 04:25 PM
Skunk, I assume you are talking Gastro-Intestinal. Well, without getting too personal lets just say I have occasional stomach issues myself. I made it in Army basic just fine, in fact I don't think my stomach was ever better. In fact, for the first couple days no one actually needs to use the bathroom (latrine in Armyspeak). It seems that everyone is just too nervous, and while I don't understand the mechanics of it, it seems that this ties up the plumbing.

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