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  • Thoughts on joining?

    Hi folks,

    I am new and found this forum while searching for information on joining the Guard. Thanks for the wealth of information. I am 29 years old and a licensed attorney employed as an associate at a very well regarded firm. I have five years of post-law school experience. My ability to go in as a JAG officer isn't necessarily a deal breaker, and I understand that the slots in my state (Tennessee) are somewhat limited. With that being said, I would very much appreciate any thoughts on the following:

    1. The relative flexibility (insofar as time commitments outside of deployment are concerned) is what appeals to me. With that being said, what kind of time commitment can be expected initially? Can I be directly commissioned as an officer? If so, what rank would be possible with my 5 years of professional experience? Would I be able to bypass any of the initial training that consists of several weeks?

    2. Does anyone know how the student loan repayment program works? Law school was not cheap, and the recruited I spoke with would not get very specific (I guess that's part of his job). I understand that there's a tiered scale under which they will repay UP TO $50,000 over 5 years.

    3. I understand that an initial commitment is 6 years. I know that no one has a crystal ball, but any thoughts as to odds of deployment during this time span, assuming no new engagements for US forces?

    Thanks for your help with these questions. I know that it would no doubt be a significant commitment, and I really appreciate your assistance.

  • #2
    1. Judge Advocates are directly commissioned as an O-2 (lieutenant). In 18 months, assuming you have successfully completed the Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course, you should be promoted to O-3 (captain). Your civilian work experience won't factor in at all. We have an appellate court judge who's been a lawyer/judge for decades... he's a lieutenant. You will not be able to bypass any of the initial training. Much of the training is "how to be a Soldier/Officer" type stuff ("Knife and Fork School"), but the portion at TJAGLCS is all military law. None of the training is available in the civilian world, so there are no waivers. Even folks with prior military service have to do it. If you're worried about your civilian job, you have legal protections there. They can't take any adverse action against you based on your military service. That flexibility you speak of, though, is highly dependent upon your unit. Some of the JAs in my state do their one weekend a month and two weeks a year and that's it. Others, like me, are constantly on orders mid-week for hearings, classes, operations, etc. It all depends on what slot you're in and what unit you're at (and how much you volunteer... I volunteer a lot).

    2. SLRP questions need to be asked to a recruiter. The requirements and the benefits change so often that the recruiter probably didn't want to promise you anything unless you signed on the dotted line. You need to be talking to the OFFICER recruiter, though, and TN will likely have a recruiter specifically for Chaplains, Surgeons, and Judge Advocates. Talk to that guy and nobody else; the regular recruiters don't know JAG recruiting, usually, because our pipeline is so vastly different (I have found that even the JAG recruiter is not always 100% up to speed).

    3. Prior to the drawdown, you basically just expected to get deployed at some point, and were surprised that you didn't get deployed. Since I joined in 2010, I've begged to deploy and nobody has taken me downrange (yet). That being said, 8 of the attorneys from my state have deployed within that time frame (out of 30 or so). You should also know that the statutory commitment is 8 years, but only 6 have to be on drilling status. The other two can be in the Inactive Ready Reserve if you so choose.

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    • #3
      SabreKhan is dead on (by the way went to JAOBC with the Judge). Newer JA here. Unless the rules have changed very recently, no money is available for student loan repayments for Guard (trust me I'd be doing it if there where). Only student loan repayments are for active folks. NGB recently has allowed the states to go over strength for JA slots. So there are more Slots today. But depending on where you live in Tennessee you could consider a border state's Guard or consider the Reserves. I know a JA out west who went this route (he's lives near a state border). Commitment is 6 years of active Drilling plus another 2 years of IRR (no Drilling but still legally in the Guard and able to be called to duty). Deployment to a war zone anytime soon for a brand new JA is unlikely, but deployment somewhere else is possible whether in the states or overseas.

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      • #4
        SabreKhan is dead on (by the way went to JAOBC with the Judge). Newer JA here. Unless the rules have changed very recently, no money is available for student loan repayments for Guard (trust me I'd be doing it if there where). Only student loan repayments are for active folks. NGB recently has allowed the states to go over strength for JA slots. So there are more Slots today. But depending on where you live in Tennessee you could consider a border state's Guard or consider the Reserves. I know a JA out west who went this route (he's lives near a state border). Commitment is 6 years of active Drilling plus another 2 years of IRR (no Drilling but still legally in the Guard and able to be called to duty). Deployment to a war zone anytime soon for a brand new JA is unlikely, but deployment somewhere else is possible whether in the states or overseas.

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