Ever wonder what the difference is between the two? You’re not alone. Many wrongly assume that the two organizations are one in the same. While there are many similarities, there are a few distinct differences.
The Army National Guard largely falls under the control of the state government. It can, however, be activated by the federal government as the Global War on Terrorism has most definitely proved. National Guard soldiers are the only military component that is allowed to operate (under normal circumstances) in a domestic capacity. Because the National Guard can serve both state and federal governments, they are able to utilize state and federal benefits. These benefits can vary from state to state, sometimes greatly. Typically, the education benefits are greater for National Guard soldiers than for Reserve soldiers. While you can’t double dip into two different federal education programs, Guard soldiers can (in most cases) utilize state and federal education benefits as it is being provided by two different sources.
The National Guard and Reserves are fairly similar in their organization. If you’re considering joining either, I’d highly encourage you to talk to soldiers of both components to get a first person account of the pros and cons of each.