While reservists in the military generally know that they may someday be called to active duty, many reservists are unsettled when the actual orders come. Some who became reservists after a period of active duty feel they have already “completed” their service. Others joined the reserves for extra income, job training, or college money, without ever really identifying with the active duty military. Each year hundreds of people contact the GI Rights Hotline looking for information about reservists and mobilization. These include active reservists from the different branches, members of the individual ready reserve (IRR), and members of different states’ Army and Air National Guard.
Often people find the status of reserve components confusing. The military maintains reserve components for the express purpose of having extra forces available for mobilization whenever it is believed that these extra forces would be useful. Title 10 of the USC allows the federal government (the President or Congress) to place on active duty reservists who are otherwise subject to Title 32 USC. In some situations (such as currently in the Army) such activation also allows different branches’ Stop Loss/Stop Move Orders to extend a GI’s end of service date beyond the contractual obligation. Although it can be waived, the 2008 Defense Authorization Act requires that mobilized reservists be given a minimum of 30 days advance notice. Being mobilized can bring differing levels of hardship to service members who might otherwise have their military experience compartmentalized into “one weekend a month,” an annual training, or in the case of IRR members at most an occasional muster. Receiving orders for mobilization to full time active duty often causes reservists to reexamine their relationship to the military. GI Rights Hotline counselors are available to provide a free, confidential consultation regarding the options for someone who is mobilized.