Volunteerism vs Mobilization:
Policies, Benefits, Incentives and Protections
This handout focuses on 30 policies, benefits, incentives and protections available to Reservists that include: pay, allowances, and leave; retirement; healthcare; legal protections; education; insurance; survivor benefits; privileges and small business support. Of the 30 reviewed, 25 are the same. Five are different (legal assistance, income replacement, 1095 rule, Post-deployment/mobilization respite absence (PDMRA), and follow-on mobilization) depending on whether a Reservist is placed on active duty status by way of volunteerism or mobilization for greater than 30 days.
Although legal assistance is available to Reservists and their dependents whenever on active duty orders, a mobilized Reservist is eligible for continued legal assistance after demobilization. This benefit is available when mobilized for more than 30 days and provides legal assistance to the Reservist and dependents following release from active duty, for not less than twice the length of active duty, subject to the availability of legal resources. See 10 U.S.C. § 1044, as amended P. Law 110-181, section 541; 122 Stat. 114.
In order to qualify for income replacement of up to $3,000 per month, a Reservist must be involuntarily mobilized (not on voluntary orders) for any full month following the date on which the member (a) completes 547 continuous days of active duty an under involuntary mobilization order; (b) completes 730 cumulative days of active duty under an involuntary mobilization order in the previous 1,826 days; or (c) is involuntarily mobilized for a period of 180 days or more within 180 days of release from a period of 180 days or more of active duty. This income replacement is only the difference between the member's average civilian income and the total military compensation, when the member's civilian pay was more. This entitlement is not applicable to federal employees and is set to expire at the end of the 2008 calendar year. See 37 U.S.C. § 910, as amended, P. Law 110-181, section 604; 122 Stat. 145.
The 1095 Rule
A Reservist may serve on active duty orders for 1095 days (three years) of the previous 1460 days (four years) without counting against Active Duty or AGR end-strength limits. If that Reservist serves in excess of this limitation he or she must be counted against end-strength limits, unless he or she serves on active duty under certain excluded categories. Days spent on mobilization orders are excluded, as are days on annual tour, days spent as an AGR, duty performed before first entering the Selective Reserve, and certain training tours. While the Secretary of the Air Force may waive certain Reservists to count against Active Duty or AGR end strength according to established criteria, waiver is not guaranteed. These criteria, in order of priority, are: members deployed to the AOR; members directly supporting OEF/OIF/ONE; members supporting approved contingencies; members on operational support orders; and members backfilling for active duty members who are forward deployed in support of OEF/OIF/ONE. See 10 U.S.C. § 115, as amended, P. Law 110-181, sections 403(h), 416(b), 417; 122 Stat. 87, 91, 92.
Secretary of Defense policy establishes the Post-Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence (PDMRA) benefit. OSD/PR and AFRC guidance further delineate the policy. Essentially, PDMRA provides for paid days off following extended time spent deployed (minimum of one cumulative year within the last 72 months). When mobilized, all time is credited towards PDMRA, whether deployed in CONUS or OCONUS. By contrast, for volunteers, the benefit applies only when serving in certain designated locations, and only if the member is subsequently mobilized within the next 72 months. See Secretary of Defense Memorandum, 19 Jan 2007; OSD/PR Policy Letter, 15 Mar 2007, as amended 18 Apr 2007 and 24 May 2007; and HQ AFRC/A1 Policy Letter, 21 Feb 2008.
Another difference between volunteering and being mobilized that could affect most Reservists is a secondary or follow-on mobilization. Current policy strives to minimize the disruption to a member's commitments outside the military. Accordingly the Secretary of Defense has established a desired ratio of time Reservists spend mobilized to time not mobilized. This ratio is currently 1:5, which means that a Reservist that spends a period of time being mobilized should expect 5 times that period as dwell, at home station, not being mobilized. A member who volunteers does not establish a new dwell period at home station by virtue of volunteering for a contingency; he or she can still be mobilized upon his or her return from voluntary duty, per the established ratio, based on his or her last mobilization. It is also important to point out that this dwell rate is a planning objective, and as such, can be changed by the Secretary of Defense when the needs of the military require. See Secretary of Defense Memorandum, 19 Jan 2007; OSD/PR Policy Letter, 15 Mar 2007, as amended 18 Apr 2007 and 24 May 2007; and HQ AFRC/A1 Policy Letter, 21 Feb 2008.
Pay, Allowances, Leave and Accessibility
Basic Pay, Basic allowance for housing (BAH), Basic allowance for subsistence (BAS), Special and incentive pays, Tax benefit for combat zone, Family separation allowance (FSA), Hostile fire/imminent danger pay, Hardship duty pay (HDP), Payment for unused leave (in support of contingency), Leave accrual, Post-deployment reconstitution
Reduced retirement pay age
Retirement or separation for physical disability, Medical and dental benefits (in support of contingency), Transitional assistance medical program (TAMP)
Employer-sponsored health care plan - COBRA
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Family SGLI
Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (with 20 years satisfactory service)
Base privileges (commissary, BX, MWR services), Space-A travel
Small Business Support
Military Reservist Economic Injury Loan Program