What I Have Learned About Having A Husband In The National Guard

What I Have Learned About Having A Husband In The National Guard

We are now three months into Guard life. So far that hasn’t meant too much as Ben has only had a couple of drills. However, I have learned some things I didn’t know. There were a few things I assumed about the Guard that I found out worked a little differently than I thought they would. I also almost titled this post, “What I Have Learned About Having A Husband In The National Guard: Part One” because I know that I will learn even more as the months go on.

So here goes:

1) How much you get paid. I assumed that every time Ben had drill, he would get paid the amount that is stated on some of the pay calculators. This is not true. They get paid by the amount of drill periods they complete. Each period is 4 hours. So if he works for 8 hours he would get two drill periods worth of pay. This is of course less than the full amount of pay we were thinking it would be.

2) How long they are gone on a monthly basis. When I used to hear people talk about drill weekends, I thought that meant they left Friday and you saw them again Sunday. Now I am sure this probably happens but it hasn’t been our experience so far. He has had two one day drills. As I look at the upcoming calendar I see a mix of different types of “drill weekends.” I really didn’t realize it would be like that. And even the first day he was gone I assumed he would walk in the door at 11pm that night. That didn’t happen although I am sure it could in the future. 

3) That drill can be cancelled. This hasn’t happened to us yet but I have been hearing that it has been happening in other states. I knew it had happened during the shutdown but I didn’t know it can sometimes happen during this time of year for budget reasons.


4) How often they go. Once again, when I heard that, “Once a month” phrase, I thought it would be once a month exactly. That they would go the 1st weekend of every month. But,that is not true either. It is all over the place. Sometimes we have a few weeks in-between and other times it is a lot longer. It just depends on when the drill is scheduled for.

5) That I would slip right back into Army Wife Mode when he leaves. This is the weirdest thing for me. Even though I know he is only gone one-two days, I feel different on those days then I do during the rest of the month. Why? My husband is off doing something with the Army. It isn’t so much that I am sad or upset, I don’t exactly feel that way, it is more that I am reminded of times past. Of when he used to go away while he was active duty. It is probably because during the rest of the month, he is not in Army mode. He grows out his hair, I don’t see his uniform, we don’t deal with units or any of that. Then he gets ready for drill each month and it is reminder to me that he is still serving his country in this way. So I am sure the back and forth of it will take some getting used to.


Is your spouse in the Guard or the Reserves? What has surprised you about it? What about Active duty life? What did you assume before you became a Military spouse?

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15 thoughts on “What I Have Learned About Having A Husband In The National Guard”

  1. I always thought that the NG was only the “one weekend a month, 2 weeks a year”. Then I met my boyfriend and I learned what the NG REALLY does. My BF is a FT National Guardsman who works 40+ hours a week as a 91B (Diesel mechanic). I guesss I never really thought about who fixes the vehicles, tanks etc, I just assumed the active duty army did this work. Along with having a full time job in the Guard, there are relentless weeks of AT training where he is gone for weeks at a time. As well as the “D” word…deployment. Between 2012-2013 he was gone a total of 341 days for a deployment to Afghanistan. Nothing is ever set in stone, so don’t ever make plans. Expect things to change and as the saying goes, “Hurry up and wait” is true in all aspects.

  2. My husband was in the Guard, and after connecting with AD wives/gfs online, I found that things were very different in many ways. My experience was different from yours, though…drills were more set, and apparently ran longer than your husband’s seem to be. The mental shift from civilian life to military life was difficult every time, which is why I was happy to have him ETS. I think that one foot in, one foot out makes it harder in a lot of ways–you never feel here or there, because even with deployments, you don’t quite “fit” with AD friends–things are run differently, family support is very different with units drawn from large geographical areas…it wasn’t easy. And there seemed to be less respect for being a Guard member, too. :/ I can’t say that I really miss it.

  3. My husband has been NG for 13 years. Yes he does have an occasional one day drill but he also has wed through sunday drills. Two week AT sometimes becomes 3 or 4 weeks. Natural disaster in the state? Then he is gone for a month. Its a constant in and out. Its crazy but its our life! 🙂 Good luck with your transition!

  4. Julie, Thanks so much for recommending this post. This is one of my biggest concerns — how long will he actually be gone for NG? My husband is getting out of AD because he doesn’t want to have to leave his family anymore. He doesn’t want to be away from family for long periods of time. So we are both wondering how often they are actually gone for drills and how common deployment is.

  5. My husband has been in the guard for 6 years. His schedule has always been all over the place. We are preparing for his first deployment at the moment with the guard, and he will be gone for a year and a half at the least. We are also going to be transitioning to active army when he gets back. Army life is not easy, but it’s our life and I wouldn’t trade it. Good luck!

  6. My husband is National Guard and currently deployed. Most people, even people in the military, don’t realize that they deploy. It is a year long deployment and then he should have a few years before his unit gets called up again.
    They also have to deal with their civilian careers, which sometimes make it difficult for them to maintain their positions if they need to take a leave of absence for deployment. My husband was an experienced worker at his job when he deployed, but when he comes home he will have to complete training all over again — without pay. Yuck.
    It is sometimes to tough to make civilian and military life work together, but I’m proud of my husband and glad to be beside him on this journey.
    The national Guard doesn’t always get much credit, but their work is so important 🙂

  7. My boyfriend just left for basic 2 weeks ago. He is in the Army National Guard. I always try to find girls who are going through the same as me and it’s very hard.

  8. My husband is in the Army national guard, and it’s a lot. He missed 100 work days last year for drill and trainings, and is deployed for 11 months this year. Drill is random, there is so little planning and structure that sometimes they even have to have more than one drill a month to accomplish everything they need to.

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