Frequently Asked Questions

The National Guard is one branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Massachusetts National Guard consists of both the Massachusetts Army National Guard and the Massachusetts Air National Guard. We are composed of full-time and part-time Soldiers and Airmen, as well as civilians, who together serve their commonwealth and country. All other states and territories have their own National Guard, as provided by the United States Constitution.

Although the National Guard is a part of this nation's reserve forces, there are a few differences between the Army or Air Force Reserve and the Guard. The National Guard is by far the oldest component of any of the uniformed services. It traces its roots to the colonial militia, and claims a "birthday" of 1636. By comparison, the U.S. Army was founded in 1775 (its first units all came out of the colonial militia) and the U.S. Air Force was created in 1947. More importantly, the National Guard maintains a unique "dual status" - both State and Federal - that no other service or component has. This dual status is rooted in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which states that "Congress shall have the power ... To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress."

The National Guard serves both the state and nation in times of need, and Soldiers and Airmen in the Guard swear an oath to protect and defend not just the Constitution of the United States, but also of the State in which they serve. In peacetime, the Guard is commanded by the governors of the respective States and Territories (the District of Columbia National Guard is commanded directly by the President). We assist civil leaders during natural disasters, state emergencies and civil unrest. Civil laws, particularly the Posse Comitatus act of 1878, limit the use of Federal troops (to include Federal Reserve components like the Army Reserve and the Air Force Reserve) to enforce the law. The National Guard, when acting in its capacity as State troops, does not fall under these restrictions and thus can augment civil authorities in maintaining law and order.

The Massachusetts Guard has a unique dual mission, with both federal and state responsibilities. During peacetime, Guard forces are commanded by the Governor through the State Adjutant General (TAG). The Governor can call the Guard into action during local or state-wide emergencies, such as storms, floods, blizzards and civil disturbances. In addition, the President of the United States can activate the Massachusetts National Guard to participate in federal missions. Examples of this are the many Massachusetts Guard units that have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror. When federalized, Guard units are commanded by the Commander in Chief of the theatre in which they are operating.

The Massachusetts National Guard has more than 100 units located in more than 40 communities throughout the commonwealth.  To find a unit near you, contact a National Guard recruiter.

The most direct route is to contact a local National Guard recruiter.

  •     For information about the Massachusetts Army National Guard click here or call 1-800-GOGUARD (1-800-464-8273).
  •     For information about the Massachusetts Air National Guard click here or call 1-800-ToGoANG (1-800-864-6264).

If you have never served in any branch of the military, there are several enlistment options. Usually, Soldiers and Airmen can serve for as little as three years, with longer periods available as well. Some benefits are based upon the length of your initial enlistment. Veterans who have served in any branch of the military have additional options available to them including a "Try One" program which allows a veteran to serve for only one year on a trial basis before committing to a full enlistment. A recruiter can provide further details.

The National Guard has physical, academic and legal qualifications. You must be in good health and have no major physical handicaps. The minimum age to join the National Guard is 17. Persons under age 18 must obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian. You must be either currently in high school or have a high school diploma or GED. You must also obtain a minimum qualifying score on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery exam (ASVAB). Soon after you contact a recruiter, they will administer this test to see if you are qualified. Your ASVAB score will also determine which jobs you are qualified for. Finally, you must have no major criminal convictions. This information is only a basic outline of the qualifications. Before enlisting you will receive a detailed medical examination and background check. Your recruiter will provide you with more exact information and make recommendations regarding your qualification status.

The Massachusetts National Guard offers a large selection of jobs throughout a range of skills. Contact a recruiter to determine which jobs are available and which jobs would be best suited for you.

The Guard offers a series of benefits ranging from competitive pay and education assistance to insurance and retirement benefits. The Massachusetts Guard currently pays for 100% of tuition and fees at Massachusetts universities, colleges, and community colleges. A broad range of skills are learned through schools and job training, and leadership opportunities are numerous. Beyond these tangible benefits, most Massachusetts Guard members agree that the greatest benefit is the opportunity to serve their country, state and community.

Massachusetts National Guard members are required to work one weekend each month and attending a two-week annual training period each year. Initially, all personnel are required to attend either Army Basic Combat Training (BCT) or Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT), followed by Advanced Individual Training (AIT) or Technical School. The location and total length of training varies according to career specialty - contact a recruiter for more specific information.

  • For information on Army Basic Combat Training (BCT) click here.
  • For information on Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) click here.

Transfers within the National Guard are handled within the units involved on a case-by-case basis. Factors such as unit needs, individual skills, unit locations and career goals are considered. If you move more than 50 miles away from your unit you may transfer to a closer unit. If you move to another state or territory, you can transfer to the Guard of that location.

Generally, membership in the Massachusetts Guard has a positive influence on civilian jobs. The skills and leadership you acquire are sought after by many employers. Some Soldiers and Airmen find their civilian and military jobs complement each other, while others seek to add diversity to their lives and skills by serving in a capacity quite different than their civilian occupation. Regardless, your membership within the Guard should not have a negative impact on your civilian employment. There are federal laws prevent employers from discriminating against an employee due to his or her membership in the Massachusetts National Guard. In addition, if you are called to active service, your employer is required by law to allow you to return to the same job you had when you left. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) organization has a web site that can provide additional information.

Yes. The Massachusetts Guard has several types of full-time employees who manage the day-to-day operations of the units in Massachusetts. Soldiers and Airmen can serve in an active-duty military status known as full-time National Guard duty (FTNGD) under Title 32, U.S. Code; or as military technicians (MT). A military technician (dual status) is a Federal civilian employee who is required as a condition of that employment to maintain membership in the Massachusetts National Guard. In addition to their full-time positions, these Soldiers and Airmen serve with a unit in a traditional status (drilling on weekends) as well.

State Military Personnel Offices can either provide records information or direct you to records custodians.

If you need to contact a military member for emergency purposes, please call your local Red Cross chapter. Use operator assistance if necessary, or you may also find your local Red Cross chapter telephone number by visiting the

Website, clicking on "Your local Red Cross" and entering your zip code.

The Office of the Inspector General of the Massachusetts National Guard is a non-partial, fact-finding extension of the Office of the Adjutant General providing a continuous assessment of the state of efficiency, discipline, morale, esprit de corps, and readiness of units in the Massachusetts National Guard. Please click here to visit the IG's office or contact us at (508) 233-7561.

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