A lot of soldiers have wondered if and how this was possible. Very few have ever transferred from National Guard to Regular Army, and I'm one of them. Here I will detail how I was able to make the switch and some tips to getting your packet approved.
The first thing is, it's a packet. With every packet there is a checklist. The problem is, most soldiers don't have the checklist and even more never knew one existed and they are simply hoping someone will approve something. Without a packet, nothing will get approved, and it needs to be a good packet at that.
It's going to change from state to state but generally you will need the same things.
- DD Form 368 signed by recruiter
- DA Form 4187 with regular army info
- Soldiers letter stating reason for request
- Supporting documents
- Other nonsense out of your control
I'll leave Louisiana's checklist as a reference but definitely check with your state to make sure you check all the blocks. Click here to download the REQUEST FOR CONDITIONAL RELEASE CHECKLIST.
Step 1 – Review the Prior Service Business Rules
Before you do anything you should review the prior service business rules found here. These rules are ever changing so don't get too excited or discouraged. Most of what you need to worry about is in paragraph 7, so disregard the rest. If you are an NCO, they will do a grade determination waiver but you wont know what rank you will come in as until MEPS.
Basically there are two categories. Either you have an MOS they want or you can reclass into one they want, each according to your rank. For me, I have 19D but after they determined I would come in as an E6, I couldn't do that because 19D was only for E5. Had I came in as an E5 I would have likely sent straight to my new unit because I hold an MOS they want. I wanted 18X as a reclass but again, they were only taking E5 and below for that so I had to pick an air defense MOS because that is all they are taking for E6 right now. No biggie, I picked one that shoots missiles at people. Should be a fun 10 weeks and good structure to get back into the swing of things while training for selection. Doesn't hurt to have a 5th MOS either for more promotion points right?
Step 2 – Talk to a Recruiter
After that, go see a GOOD recruiter. Sounds simple right? I walked into a recruiting office in Baton Rouge only a few months off terminal leave from AGR and said I wanted in. They said they couldn't do anything for me. After 2 days, I was determined to get in so I called another office and asked to speak with someone that could help me. Well, they did.
Bottom line is, the Army wants to boost numbers and are calling for guard and reserve to come on over. Obviously they want new guys, but if they want sustainment, they will need prior service. There are a lot of rumors out there about prior service recruiting but again, the bottom line in big army wants prior service to come back or guard to make the transfer, so it's possible.
If you are in Louisiana and need to find a recruiter, LET ME KNOW, and I can get you in touch with mine. It's been proven that it's possible to make the transfer through us, and now he has the POC at the state level who approves everything to make the process much faster. Contact me by clicking here.
Step 3 – Build the Packet
Let the fun begin! When you meet with your recruiter they will send you two documents, a DD368 and a DA4187. Save those because they are a big piece of the packet.
Now, get with a 42A and ask them to help you with writing a memo, or look it up yourself. You will need to write (type) a letter in memo format (because that looks professional) stating the reason you want to be released from the guard and transferred to regular army. This memo will be reviewed by every commander up the chain so make it PERFECT. I've had to correct so many E8's and E9's on their memo writing…… Be the standard here and let them know you mean business.
In this memo explain in detail what it would mean for you to transfer. Will it mean a pay raise? Will it mean you can avoid bankruptcy? Will it get you out of government housing and off food stamps? Get vulnerable here and in a professional matter, explain to your chain of command why you want so badly for this to be approved. For me, it was a financial solution on paper. I say on paper because I don't want to do anything other than be in the Army, I'm just thankful they pay me well too. If it's financial there could be other docs associated with the packet.
Here's where if you are claiming a financial hardship, you get to prove it. Again, be vulnerable here because it's going to pay off. I get it, it's freaking embarrassing that the man cant afford his bills and support his family but this is doing something about it.
For LA, I was required to completed a Financial Worksheet, DA 3072-2
Here's where you break it down to the cent and prove it. Along with the 3072-2, you want to print out EVERY bill and debt you have, and I mean EVERY. Don't hold back here. I detailed each bill on down to the penny and showed my income vs debts to prove that in order to pay everything I owe, I would be making a negative $1000/mo. I don't know if that helped, but I got precise with it. Medical debt, student loans, tuition the guard wont cover, electric, past due bills, car loan, health insurance, dental insurance, you name it.
This is according to Louisiana, so your state may not have the same requirements so be sure to check with your Readiness NCO.
Verification Memo from RIO
You may have some other nonsense to complete like I did. I was told to call a 1SG who could help me look for a job. Just check the block here and make the call if you have something similar. That 1SG just wanted to know why I wanted to transfer but he did look for any jobs hiring at the time, which can help depending on how long you are waiting for approval. He sent a memo to my unit and that was part of the packet.
If you are currently under a bonus contract, you will need to sign a DA 4856 acknowledging that you could have to pay that bonus back when you transfer. Honestly, it's worth it to be making a full time income with free health care VS $300/mo. Think long term here. A 3 year contract making 60k/yr = $180,000 (as an E6). You likely didn't get a bonus over 10k and that can be broken up into small payments.
Step 4 – Submit the Packet
Now that you have all the documents, it's time to submit the packet. Compile it in order of the checklist and make sure everything is nice and neat. Don't submit crappy looking stuff! If you can, make it all digital like I did. AGR work digital anyway.
A good idea would be to ask to meet with your commander about this so that you can explain face to face what you are trying to do. Sometimes that may help add some context to the memo, but that doesn't mean write a crappy memo. I spoke with my commander and 1SG prior to submitting the packet and explained what I wanted. They both understood and said they would recommend approval.
Send your packet to the AGR team, readiness NCO, training NCO, whoever it is in your unit that handles all personnel actions. They will then attach the company commander's memo and send it forward.
Step 5 – Hurry Up and Wait
We cant have Army and not hurry up and wait. This step is the longest. I waited 4 months to get the official approval. The good thing is, I was enlisted a week after getting that approval. It may not take that long for you if you are going through my recruiter because he has the hook up with LA, but just be prepared.
Here is where knowing people helps out. If you know some people up the chain that can help you, talk to them. I knew a few people and we were able to better monitor where the packet was and ask for status updates. Again, my recruiter has the POC at state who compiles and give the packet to the general for approval so if you want it to move fast, go though him.
Step 6 – Get Approved
Easier said than done, but eventually as long as you have a compelling case and your packet is squared away, you will get approved. This is your career, take ownership of it. You have to SELL it. Disclaimer: your state does not have to approve you.
One approved you'll go back to your recruiter and do some paperwork. For me, I was at MEPS 1 week from the day of approval. Here's where you'll prep for MEPS, decide on a job, and some other stuff. Because you are prior service, you wont do much at MEPS. I only did fingerprinting, met with the security manager (because I needed a clearance), and picked my job. After this, you will get your "Reservation" which is basically your military orders so it's official. You can now start telling work, landlord, etc.
Clear Everything with Your Unit
What I mean is close out any existing projects, hand off leadership responsibilities, and most importantly, CLEAR SUPPLY! You're unit may be all over this but I just want to put it in case they aren't. Do not ship out with gear on your record. Again, here's the long term thing… If you are missing something either buy it or do a statement of charges. Get cleared and remove any ties to the guard. It will make things easier.
Step 7 – Ship Out
The easiest step of all. You'll go back to MEPS, go to the hotel, wake up the next morning and get on a plane. If you get to report to a unit because you have an MOS they want, it's probably going to be different. For me, I'm going to 14P AIT so I'm shipping out from MEPS just like we did in the beginning.
You will get your official orders when you ship out. There will likely be a checklist here as well. Do not come to MEPS with out everything on the checklist…..
After that, enjoy the plane ride and enjoy the next 3 years of your new career! Hope this helps.