Types of Military Service


There are many ways to serve your country in the Military, many of them not involving combat. In fact, about 85 percent of today’s enlisted military jobs are non-combat. Such positions support the fighting forces, aid in disaster relief, construct infrastructure, provide medical care and legal help and much more. Essentially, any job you can find in a major city, you can find in the U.S. Military.

There are five active branches of the Military.

  • Army – As the oldest branch of the Military, the Army protects the security of the United States and its resources.
  • Marine Corps – Working closely with the Navy, the Marine Corps is often first on the ground in combat situations.
  • Navy – The Navy defends the right to travel and trade freely on the world’s oceans and protects national interests overseas.
  • Air Force – The Air Force protects American interests at home and abroad with a focus on air power.
  • Coast Guard – The Coast Guard is a military, multi-mission, maritime service within the Department of Homeland Security. Its core roles are to protect the public, the environment and U.S. economic and security interests in any maritime region, including international waters and America’s coasts, ports and inland waterways.

Each Service has a corresponding Reserve, and most states and territories have an Army National Guard and Air National Guard unit.

Active Duty

Active Duty means that their jobs are full-time, whether deployed overseas or domestically. Active-duty servicemembers receive a regular paycheck and full benefits, including health care, housing allowance and 30 days of paid vacation per year.

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Each branch also has a Reserve component. These servicemembers receive the same training as their active-duty peers but do so close to home until they are needed to deploy. Although some reservists serve full time, many typically train one weekend per month, plus two weeks of field exercises each year. Members usually hold a regular full-time job in addition to serving. Reserve servicemembers are paid for all time spent training or deployed and receive many of the same benefits as active-duty personnel.

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Army National Guard

Most U.S. states and territories have an Army National Guard unit. Members of the Army National Guard often have civilian jobs and can train close to home. Either the president or state governors can call on them when they are needed. They are sometimes deployed internationally alongside full-time servicemembers, but they most often work in disaster relief or other emergency situations within the United States.

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Air National Guard

Like Army National Guard units, Air National Guard units are found in most U.S. states and territories. Air National Guard members also have civilian jobs and train close to home, although they can be deployed abroad. They receive the same training as their active-duty counterparts, and their roles include defending the nation by air, delivering aid following a natural disaster or providing emergency health care.

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Related Resources

Get More Information

To learn more about the Military, visit the links below and the related resources to the right. You can also make an appointment to speak with a recruiter in your area. He or she will be able to give you the most up-to-date program information specific to your situation, and talking to a recruiter doesn’t in any way obligate you to military service.

Official Service Websites

Related Resources