There are numerous options available for those seeking a military career. Among these choices, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, some choose the National Guard.
This blog post will address the question of whether felons can join the National Guard.
- Qualifications for Joining the National Guard
- Restrictions against Felons
- Being a Success Story
- Encouraging Felons to Join the National Guard
Qualifications for Joining the National Guard
General guidelines for joining the National Guard without any previous military experience are to be between the ages of 17 and 35, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and have a high school diploma or a GED certificate.
This type of commitment typically involves a 12-week basic training and placement into a reserve unit that serves one weekend per month and two weeks out of the year. These units are subject to being activated during time of military need.
Those who choose to pursue this route must be able to follow the schedule for the unit to which they are assigned, which could impact civilian jobs.
Additionally, there are medical, physical, and moral requirements that must be met.
Restrictions against Felons
While felons can qualify on most of these requirements, the problem for them is the moral requirement. Those with a felony conviction are disqualified from joining the National Guard on this count.
In fact, conviction of many of the more serious misdemeanors, involving violence or drugs, will also prevent those with a criminal record from enlisting in the National Guard.
Especially serious crimes, such as murder or drug trafficking are automatic barriers to joining the National Guard.
There is a provision, however, which allows the Army National Guard to waive up to one felony. This would depend on the circumstances of the crime along with the needs of the National Guard at that time.
So for those felons interested in a military career with the National Guard, the door is not closed.
Of course, as many felons realize, even having that opening probably still seems like a long shot to accomplish.
As felons know, simply finding employment can feel like an impossibility. So many doors are closed after that felony conviction. Jobs are difficult to find.
So to believe that a career with the National Guard is possible, can feel overwhelming.
Being a Success Story
Still there are many success stories of those who came out of prison and established themselves in a career they did not believe was possible for them either. Check out the Guide to Becoming Employed available as a download.
These were stories of felons who succeeded because they had a desire that they turned into a goal and took the necessary steps to achieve with determination and perseverance.
Just as the guide outlines, they took the steps to go from being felons to realizing their dreams.
The essential thing for each of them was not accepting the fact that life after prison had to be empty. They sought what they wanted and worked hard to get it.
In addition to the physical and mental toughness demanded by the military, joining the National Guard requires commitment and the determination to succeed. These will help greatly in demonstrating the necessary moral requirements.
Talking with a recruiter can answer the question of whether a waiver can be obtained. Be honest with the recruiter about the offense and the circumstances involved.
Remember, there are re-entry programs available to help overcome obstacles.
There are addiction treatment programs and opportunities for education for those who want to pursue it, especially for those who want to attain their GED, an entry requirement of the National Guard.
For felons wanting to join the National Guard, having their criminal record expunged, can put them in the position to have their felony waived.
Obtaining legal counsel and going through the process of wiping out their record can go a long way.
Remember the moral standard clause of the National Guard.
The easy perception by society of felons is that they are immoral and undeserving of forgiveness and being able to of service to their country in a role such as the military offers.
Felons shouldn’t be as quick as much of the rest of society to view themselves in such a harsh light and believe they have to accept the typical limitations imposed upon them.
They should keep working to accomplish a noble goal to serve and protect through the National Guard.
Encouraging Felons to Join the National Guard
Families of felons who have that desire for a military career can stand in support of them by encouraging them to stick it out and assisting them in pursuing re-entry programs or getting that GED.
If your loved one has that desire to join the National Guard, then they obviously value living an honest life.
Help them take the steps necessary to live the right way, to put the mistakes of the past behind them, and move forward.
It can be so rewarding to them and to you as a supporter to see them set and accomplish their goal. There is honor in a military career for those who desire it.
What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to join the National Guard with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they deal with it? Please tell us in the comments below.