One of the United States’ five branches of the military, the US Navy is responsible for defense of our country from the sea. For people who are unable to serve full-time, or would rather make their commitment for only dire times of need, there is the navy reserve.
Like in all the branches, reservists for the navy train several days a month to keep their skills up to date, and are called upon to serve when needed. Reservists make up 20 percent of the total Navy force, so they are not a small component of the defense system.
There are three types of reservists in the navy, and several subsets of these categories. The Ready Reserve is made up of the Selected Reserve, and the Individual Ready Reserve. Selected Reservists receive benefits and pay, are required to train and work a certain number of hours or days, and are liable for recall to active duty at any time. Individual Reservists are trained naval personnel who receive no pay for training activities, and whose services are voluntary. They may receive benefits if they volunteer for active duty assignments.
Standby Reservists are those who have completed the legal requirements of a Ready Reservist, and are not required to train or work. They can only be ordered to active duty by an act of Congress, after a determination is made that there are insufficient Ready Reservists to handle the emergency. Retired Reservists are inactive members of the reserve drawing military retirement, or over 60 and eligible for retirement.
There are different ways to join the reserves, depending on your education, and any prior military service you may have performed. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to join the enlisted reserves, and officers must have a college degree. Those with no prior military experience spend eight weeks at boot camp, before returning to their civilian lives and serving an average of 16 hours a month plus two weeks per year.
As well as educational requirements, there are also height, weight, and age requirements. You must be between 60 and 80 inches tall to join the reserves (5’0″ and 6’8″), and between 18 and 39 years old. You must also be a legal US citizen. Foreign immigrants must have completed the citizenship process before they can join.
If you are currently serving in the military, or have performed military services in the past, you do not have to enroll in the eight-week boot camp. Instead, you can go directly to the 16 hours a month, two weeks a year service schedule of a Reservist. Age and education requirements for veterans and active duty military personnel are determined on a case by case basis.
The Navy Reserve allows former military personnel to enjoy the camaraderie and pride of serving their country while maintaining civilian lives and careers, and allows those without prior service to join without leaving their lives behind. But reservists should be aware that while in peacetime, they may spend their entire commitment stateside, they can and will be called upon to join our troops all around the world, as needed.