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Calgunners in Service This forum is a place for our active duty and deployed members to share, request and have a bit of home where ever they are.

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  #1  
Old 02-26-2016, 12:07 PM
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Default Cal. State Military Reserve (CSMR) advice please

I've read every CSMR thread on here and it's a really appealing option to serve the State. I need some advice.

I'm a 35 year-old litigation attorney with no prior military service. After speaking with a recruiter and scheduling my medical exam, it looks like I have three options: (1) I could enlist now, experience CSMR for a year as a E-4 (Specialist), and then apply to OCS for the 2017-2018 OCS class; (2) I could wait until the 2017-2018 OCS class opens up and apply then for a direct appointment to OCS; or (3) I could get a direct appointment now as a JAG officer. The recruiter indicates that I'm going to miss the cutoff for the 2016-2017 OCS class due to the time it takes to accede to CSMR, and also he recommends starting off enlisted so that I know what is expected of officers and will be fully informed of that before I make that commitment. And of course, there is no guarantee of being selected for OCS.

Option 1: enlist as an E-4 now, drill for a year, and then apply to OCS in 2017. Advantages as I see them: I know what I'm getting into, I get acclimated to uniformed service, I get to know people, I get experience in the field I will be going into, and I think I would get more respect from people as an officer if I have prior enlisted service. Disadvantages: I have a college degree and law degree plus ten years of experience as a lawyer, and I'm not enthusiastic about being a E-4 with those credentials.

Option 2: don't join now, but apply directly to OCS in 2017. Advantages: don't have to be E-4 for a year and can go right to OCS if selected. Disadvantages: inexperience and potential lack of credibility as a line officer in the state reserve with no prior service.

Option 3: apply for a direct appointment as a JAG. Advantages: no need for prior enlisted service, and potentially appointed to a higher rank. Disadvantages: not a line officer, and I don't really want to do desk work or have my day job be the same as my job in the CSMR. I have done enough lawyering to last a lifetime.

I'm leaning toward option 2 but I would like feedback. It would be really helpful to hear what people have actually done as well. Thanks.
--
Edit: I received a PM requesting more info:

Quote:
Can you add to your post:
1. Why do you want to be an Officer?
2. What unit do you want to go to and/ or MOS?

[snip]

In the CSMR officers for the most part ride a desk. If an officer does what they are suppose to, they give a SGT the overall plan and the SGT implements it. If you want to play, you enlist. If you want to lead/plan overall go the officer route.

Option 4 is go JAG for a year or two, then transfer to another unit, that is what I would recommend.
1. I would say family pressure. A close family member is a former LTC in the Army and in the past he's strongly advocated going directly to OCS rather than enlisting first (years ago when I was considering the National Guard).

2. I was thinking Military Police or Signal Corps. It would be amazing if there were any investigative positions, but I'm not counting on it by any means.
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Old 02-26-2016, 3:13 PM
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My personal opinion: You will be a better officer if you experience the enlisted side of things first.
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Old 02-26-2016, 3:22 PM
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Old 02-26-2016, 4:55 PM
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PM CrazyCobraManTim
Already done, waiting to hear back.
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Old 02-26-2016, 9:54 PM
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From a former enlisted man- Go to OCS. Don't enlist.
1- You're a reserve JAG officer, not an Infantry PL. No one gives a **** if you're prior-service leading an office or legal shop.

2- You are way too overqualified to enlist. You will just end up hating your life and going suicidal from being a professional janitor all day.

3- You get paid more, and you get better quarters as an officer.

4- Let your PSG worry about relating to the troops. Your job is to be the boss.

5-People who usually excel at enlisted life are low-income, low-education 18-21 yr olds trying to get the **** out their small town. You don't sound like that.

While I'm on my soapbox, what is even the point of being state-reserves? Go active or go home. Trust me, you have better **** to do on your weekends then do inventories and PMCS.
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Old 02-27-2016, 11:56 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I had a long conversation with a recruiter last night and he cleared up a few things. Honestly, the National Guard seems to be a better fit for my goals and interests, and this would be my last chance before I age out. I'm just not sure I can afford it.
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Old 02-27-2016, 1:00 PM
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If your desire is for longevity in the service, and to work in a line role, I would definitely opt for the enlisted route and then OCS, but I would spend a few years enlisted first.

This is coming from one who enlisted in the service and then went to OCS soon after.

The military has a very unique structure that takes awhile to learn. You'll get a better mastery of the line functions as an enlisted member. The inevitable mistakes that you'll make while learning are more easily forgiven when you're enlisted.

It's a pretty universal observation that the best officers are those that had some tenure as enlisted first, followed in order by the academy grads, OCS grads, and then direct commission.

Yes, there are drawbacks. Enlisted life if nowhere near as comfortable as commissioned life. But the simple truth is that is creature comforts are at the top of your list, you're not going to make a good officer.
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Old 02-27-2016, 7:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pfdr1991 View Post
From a former enlisted man- Go to OCS. Don't enlist.
1- You're a reserve JAG officer, not an Infantry PL. No one gives a **** if you're prior-service leading an office or legal shop.

2- You are way too overqualified to enlist. You will just end up hating your life and going suicidal from being a professional janitor all day.

3- You get paid more, and you get better quarters as an officer.

4- Let your PSG worry about relating to the troops. Your job is to be the boss.

5-People who usually excel at enlisted life are low-income, low-education 18-21 yr olds trying to get the **** out their small town. You don't sound like that.

While I'm on my soapbox, what is even the point of being state-reserves? Go active or go home. Trust me, you have better **** to do on your weekends then do inventories and PMCS.
When did you serve and what branch? You sound like someone who has never been in the military. The California State Reserve Force is an all volunteer force that is unpaid, so enlisted vs. officer pay doesn't matter.
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Old 02-27-2016, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pfdr1991 View Post
From a former enlisted man- Go to OCS. Don't enlist.
1- You're a reserve JAG officer, not an Infantry PL. No one gives a **** if you're prior-service leading an office or legal shop.

2- You are way too overqualified to enlist. You will just end up hating your life and going suicidal from being a professional janitor all day.

3- You get paid more, and you get better quarters as an officer.

4- Let your PSG worry about relating to the troops. Your job is to be the boss.

5-People who usually excel at enlisted life are low-income, low-education 18-21 yr olds trying to get the **** out their small town. You don't sound like that.

While I'm on my soapbox, what is even the point of being state-reserves? Go active or go home. Trust me, you have better **** to do on your weekends then do inventories and PMCS.
I have no advice for OP but from one "former enlisted" to another, I disagree with point 4 and 5.

Also active duty isn't that great either.
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Old 02-29-2016, 5:01 AM
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You need to decide what job you want to do first If you want to get paid go National Guard. If your going to be a jag then go in as a professional officer. If you want to be a line officer go enlisted first. The CSMR is a volunteer organization. It will cost you money as you will be buying all of your own gear and uniforms. There are many jobs but you do them for love of country not money. We support the National Guard as well as training them depending on your job. As a medic we train soldiers in combat life saving. We supply medics for range safety. We are also trained and ready in case we are needed by the state in emergency situations. Those are just some of the things we do. I turned down OCS because I don't want to ride a desk. Lots of great training too.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:10 AM
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Your issue is you are getting too old.

YOU NEED TO STOP THE CLOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you go the OCS route, or Direct Commission route into Legal it will burn a lot of time. Time you don't have. As a reservist or NG you will stop the clock the moment you sign the contract, and your time in service starts then.

If you enlist, you take the risk of being stuck there for the duration. However, you will have time for two or three tries to Direct Commission until age 42.

Here is my time line as it pertained to my situation when the age limit was 42.

I enlisted at 38, and shipped to basic at 39. I entered the USAR with a MBA.

Since I was reserve my time in service started the moment I signed the contract. By time I shipped I had 6 months time in service. After 7 months of BCT/AIT I had just over a year time in service when I was at my unit and drilling.

I started the process for Direct Commission right out of the gate, and it took me a year to get my first package submitted.

I then made SGT in that time.

My first attempt for Direct Commission failed. I was trying to go Military Intel.

I managed to get a second direct commission package sent the following year, and then BOOM I deployed.

I spent 9 months down range, and was informed I was selected for direct commission a few weeks before I returned. However, I went into the Quartermaster Branch. It has the most openings by far.

It took 6 months to clear the medial process (every USAR direct commission I know has this problem since we went to an Air Force base for the exam).

Enlistment date: March 2011
Commission date: May 2015

So the question is, are you going to take the risk, and eat crow for 3-4 years? Or get too old and never know?
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pfdr1991 View Post
While I'm on my soapbox, what is even the point of being state-reserves? Go active or go home. Trust me, you have better **** to do on your weekends then do inventories and PMCS.
Well, USAR (and I presume NG) get medical insurance at $60 a month (single male).

I'll also pick up a prorated retirement which will be worth a few grand a month.

Get a deployment in there and your kids go to state colleges in CA tuition free.

Get a honorable DD214 and there are other perks.

Play the game right and rack up retirement points to bump your retirement check.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:22 AM
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Thanks Snoopy47, very helpful!

I've looked at the numbers and unfortunately, I can't afford to join the National Guard. I would lose my income the moment I was deployed and could not sustain myself on NG pay for a year. If I sold my home and car and went to the regular Army I could potentially do that, but I just don't think I'm prepared to do that at this point in my life and start over yet again. I guess this is the sunk costs dilemma in action. I appreciate everyone's insight.
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Old 03-01-2016, 9:38 AM
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FYI, I contacted the Army about active duty OCS. They said they are not approving age waivers for OCS at this time, for either reserve or active OCS. So anyone who wants to do OCS must ship to training by their 33rd birthday and graduate/get commissioned by their 34th birthday. Oh well.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by andytothemax View Post
FYI, I contacted the Army about active duty OCS. They said they are not approving age waivers for OCS at this time, for either reserve or active OCS. So anyone who wants to do OCS must ship to training by their 33rd birthday and graduate/get commissioned by their 34th birthday. Oh well.
You do know that in the military everything is waiverable... You just need to be persistent and find the right contacts in the chain.
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Old 03-01-2016, 8:07 PM
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Don't do it. Find another way to serve your country. I have a friend who is a lawyer and he became a reserve sheriff. They lean on him for all kinds of rewarding tasks such as kidnapping, child abuse and sex trafficking investigations. He gets to make a big difference serving his community.

I only say this out of love. I am a former active duty guy who went the enlisted infantry route after college rather than go officer. I liked it, but it was definitely an indulgence in my life as I gained little more than a cool experience. If you really really want to join the military, pfdr has the best advice. You don't contribute to anything by being overqualified for your rank as joes are meant to be replaceable.
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Old 03-02-2016, 7:50 AM
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You do know that in the military everything is waiverable... You just need to be persistent and find the right contacts in the chain.
^^This is true , I was an Army Medic and everything short of HIV was pretty much waiverable. To OP , your clock is ticking and I would suggest you go straight to OCS (if your current recruiter wont , then find another since they may lie to you to avoid extra work) and lock in your future first. If you make OCS and get your commission you can always spend time with your soldiers in the field or on details interacting with and learning from them. When I got back from deployment our unit received a cherry LT fresh out of OCS. They guy wasnt the the most intelligent but he had great people skills and was always out there learning with us instead of hiding in the office all day. We all really liked him because he tried to relate to us.
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Old 03-03-2016, 8:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickD427 View Post
If your desire is for longevity in the service, and to work in a line role, I would definitely opt for the enlisted route and then OCS, but I would spend a few years enlisted first.

This is coming from one who enlisted in the service and then went to OCS soon after.

The military has a very unique structure that takes awhile to learn. You'll get a better mastery of the line functions as an enlisted member. The inevitable mistakes that you'll make while learning are more easily forgiven when you're enlisted.

It's a pretty universal observation that the best officers are those that had some tenure as enlisted first, followed in order by the academy grads, OCS grads, and then direct commission.

Yes, there are drawbacks. Enlisted life if nowhere near as comfortable as commissioned life. But the simple truth is that is creature comforts are at the top of your list, you're not going to make a good officer.
This is sound advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pfdr1991 View Post
From a former enlisted man- Go to OCS. Don't enlist.
1- You're a reserve JAG officer, not an Infantry PL. No one gives a **** if you're prior-service leading an office or legal shop.

2- You are way too overqualified to enlist. You will just end up hating your life and going suicidal from being a professional janitor all day.

3- You get paid more, and you get better quarters as an officer.

4- Let your PSG worry about relating to the troops. Your job is to be the boss.

5-People who usually excel at enlisted life are low-income, low-education 18-21 yr olds trying to get the **** out their small town. You don't sound like that.

While I'm on my soapbox, what is even the point of being state-reserves? Go active or go home. Trust me, you have better **** to do on your weekends then do inventories and PMCS.
#1 - I don't mean to insult any officers here, but I've seen many officers who don't know anything about the operations they are supposed to "be the boss" of. This goes for the military and civilian world. When I was in the military people respected enlisted to officer over the fresh out of college butter bar who showed up with all his ideas.

#2 - If there is the slight possibility you will become suicidal after mopping a floor then the military isn't for you.

#3 - I agree, but the CSMR isn't paid so it doesn't apply here.

#4 - See number 1

#5 - Nice stereotype

Last edited by pitbull30; 03-03-2016 at 8:09 AM..
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Old 03-06-2016, 4:40 PM
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If you can get a waiver to ENLIST then you could direct commission until age 42.

Also, consider while in training you collect half of BAH (some say you get 100%, but I got 50%), and while deployed you get 100% BAH.

This effectively doubles your income, and then remember while deployed in a combat zone you are not being taxed. Also BAH is not taxed. So half of your income is tax free while on orders.

So if it comes down to "money" if you crunch the numbers a deployed E5 with California BAH is nearly as much as $100K for someone paying taxes.
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Old 03-13-2016, 6:05 PM
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enlisted here with a bachelors. My best advice, go straight to ocs. Enlisted is great if you are going for technical schools that will provide you with a career. Sounds like you are already well on that track.

With the current draw down, direct commission from lower enlisted is highly improbable. From what I hear, you need to essentially be an E6+. There are very few slots to get this done, but then again, that is big army not state reserve.
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Old 03-20-2016, 3:10 AM
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With respect to military, I suggest you get whatever you want and get it in writing and get it before hand. Trying to get what you want from the military after you enlist is like getting a serial killer to just "let you go" after drugging and kidnapping you.
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Old 03-21-2016, 4:17 PM
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i dont get all this talk about pay.. CSMR doesnt pay...

the best officers are the officers who know to listen to their NCO..

you aint going to get street cred either way if ur a CSMR officer or enlisted. it's pretty much a volunteer job and who the hell is going to crap on a volunteer that's just trying to HELP them out?
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Old 03-21-2016, 9:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pfdr1991 View Post

5-People who usually excel at enlisted life are low-income, low-education 18-21 yr olds trying to get the **** out their small town. You don't sound like that.
That is a pretty insulting comment toward the enlisted people who do most of the work in the military. At your next company formation, you should let your troops know how you really feel about them.
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Old 03-27-2016, 4:06 PM
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Andy,

Sorry for the delay. I've had many, many family challenges over the last X months. I would recommend Option #2 if you ever want to lead troops, and certainly to become a better officer. Option #1 would take some time , and it doesn't hurt to learn the ropes at a slower pace. I do know many soldiers who went straight from the street into OCS, and perhaps 1/2 make it and become good officers. I'd whole heartedly agree that you should listen to your senior enlisted NCOs, as they have been there / done that. Listen to their wise council.

LT G
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Old 03-27-2016, 9:16 PM
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Andy, PM me and I'll talk to you about your options. I was at the JHFQ for the last 6 years and worked with just about all the officers in the Northern command including the training command at some point. The CSMR IS an all volunteer force and is unpaid unless you work yourself into a SAD job or get put on paid orders . It has been a great experience for me as a FYI .
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