Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Newly Accepted JAG Reserves

Good Afternoon! Recently accepted into JAG Reserves and w newjag1702/24/17
No questions, but congratulations. Hindsight being 20/20 I w kramer71602/24/17
I had a promising screener interview but I got medically dis dharamsala02/24/17
What was your medical issue if you dont mind sharing? And di newjag1702/26/17
ABORT ABORT ABORT anonattempt03/08/17
I take anti-depressants. dharamsala03/08/17
I was offered Army JAG but declined to accept, which I kicke trollfeeder02/24/17
His post says JAG "Reserve" t3success02/25/17
Army will recruit for regular Army and reserves at the same trollfeeder02/25/17
Thanks all for the Congrats! JAG was always something I was newjag1702/25/17
What did you say in the interview as to why you wanted to be t3success02/25/17
So you have a full time job too? What is it? How much of you perkinwarbeck02/25/17
First: During interview and my personal statement, I was tot newjag1702/25/17
I was a JAG in the Army Reserve for 11 yrs, got out in 2013. porochi02/28/17
Hi Porochi: Thanks for your posting--curious about the "c newjag1703/01/17
In a nutshell every Army unit has a certain number of positi majorkong03/01/17
Interesting! That makes sense--So it sounds as if you reach newjag1703/02/17
Can't really speak to JAG specifically as that wasn't my fie majorkong03/02/17
MAJ Kong is right about career progression. In my JAG unit porochi03/02/17
Porichi: Thank you so much for such a detailed posting--i newjag1703/04/17
I do. I'm proud of my service. But it wasn't what I expecte porochi03/07/17
Did you know of any attorneys in the reserve who signed on f bankofmouse03/08/17
There are tons of civilian attorneys who are in reserves/nat tom_foolery03/08/17
Porochi: Seriously, thank you so much for the detailed pe newjag1703/10/17
I was also accepted in the Dec 16 board as a reservist. I w data03/22/17
You guys provided some really nice advice. I got accepted in antonjart03/22/17
I know a bit about this. Once you are through with training data03/22/17
Thank you, this is reassuring! antonjart03/22/17

newjag17 (Feb 24, 2017 - 4:55 pm)

Good Afternoon!

Recently accepted into JAG Reserves and would be more than happy to answer any questions regarding application process and the often frustrating lack of accurate information on the web posted by people.

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kramer716 (Feb 24, 2017 - 5:26 pm)

No questions, but congratulations. Hindsight being 20/20 I wish I would have tried to go the JAG route. Good luck to you.

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dharamsala (Feb 24, 2017 - 5:37 pm)

I had a promising screener interview but I got medically disqualified.

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newjag17 (Feb 26, 2017 - 2:59 pm)

What was your medical issue if you dont mind sharing? And did you attempt a waiver?

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anonattempt (Mar 8, 2017 - 11:18 am)

ABORT ABORT ABORT

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dharamsala (Mar 8, 2017 - 6:16 pm)

I take anti-depressants.

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trollfeeder (Feb 24, 2017 - 8:06 pm)

I was offered Army JAG but declined to accept, which I kicked myself for until I found a good job.

Did you get it through oci? I remember it was an interview, and thenot the offer came a few weeks later. Are you going active right away?

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t3success (Feb 25, 2017 - 7:53 am)

His post says JAG "Reserve"

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trollfeeder (Feb 25, 2017 - 9:09 am)

Army will recruit for regular Army and reserves at the same time. Some lso's will offer active duty to reserves right off the bat.

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newjag17 (Feb 25, 2017 - 12:28 pm)

Thanks all for the Congrats! JAG was always something I was interested in--I seriously considered it about three different times but really liked what I was doing in civilian world--DA and an Adjunct Prof at a college.

I initially made the Alternate List posted in late Dec 2016 then got elevated to Primary a few weeks ago. No prior military exp but a ton of litigation exp as a Senior DA. Processing once accepted takes months--earliest training component would be next Jan for me! Processing is paperwork, medical, and a new physical test OPAT.

Oh and unlike a lot of applicants, I just applied to Reserves. Many apply to both AD and Reserves so when you see final Acceptance lists, theres a lot of double named listed so Acceptance rates are pretty low since same applicants are occupying coveted slots on both lists. (I had seen posts suggesting JAG competition wasnt that high--thats def not true at least currently)

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t3success (Feb 25, 2017 - 5:58 pm)

What did you say in the interview as to why you wanted to be a JAG?

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perkinwarbeck (Feb 25, 2017 - 6:04 pm)

So you have a full time job too? What is it? How much of your time do you expect this to take up? I wonder if it could be an option for me to do along side my Fed Agency job. I'm 33 so still under the age cap for a few years.

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newjag17 (Feb 25, 2017 - 6:34 pm)

First: During interview and my personal statement, I was totally honest: I have always been committed to public service and serving something higher than myself. I said that I thought I could apply my skills to assisting the military, both its members and the institution itself. My FSO asked why I didnt pursue AD and again I was honest: I was really divided between JAG and becoming a State prosecutor and not having a desire to relocate, opted against AD at that time but was still always drawn to JAG service hence my path to Reserves. He seemed very satisfied with that answer.

As to other question, Im a full-time State prosecutor, and I talked to several Reserve JAGs who said that Govt. Attorneys seem to have an easier time balancing JAG/Civilian gigs. Also, I learned that the opportunities in JAG are pretty interesting in that the more you want to take on, the more you can. As to age, not a factor since Im 42 and was accepted with an age waiver. Only thing about applying older is if you cannot complete 20 years in by 62, you must opt out of retirement (pension not benefits) which I had no problem doing since I wasn't joining for the pension. I had seen a lot of diff. posts about age so thought Id share that aspect.

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porochi (Feb 28, 2017 - 8:48 pm)

I was a JAG in the Army Reserve for 11 yrs, got out in 2013. Even Reserve JAG can become a big time commitment, esp. the longer you stay in. The Army wants to see career movement, so don't think you can camp out in the same Reserve unit in your hometown until retirement. After a few years in your first unit, you'll need to move up and out. And in the Reserves it's up to you to find those slots. That means a lot of soldiers at Company grade level, CPT, and above, will have to change units, change jobs and find themselves driving, flying, etc. hundreds of miles each drill weekend to drill at some unit far from home. And don't forget Active Duty time, Annual Training, Active Duty for Training, etc., etc. All in all, Reserve JAG duty can translate into a major time suck if you want to stay in for 20 yrs. and retire. After all the training in fascinating subjects like the Law of War, Operational Law and various Field Exercises of all stripes, what I ended up doing, for real so-called JA practice, probably 85% of the time was drafting wills for old military retirees taking advantage of their lifetime benefit of free legal services. I got out once the shine wore off and it started to become a pain in the ass.

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newjag17 (Mar 1, 2017 - 11:56 am)

Hi Porochi:

Thanks for your posting--curious about the "change units, change jobs" and "up to you to find those slots". Having no prior military experience, can you expand and elaborate on all that for me (and others) with as much detail as you'd care to share?
My goal in posting here was to share and receive as much info as possible about the JAG experience, and it sounds like there is wealth of info you have.
Thanks!

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majorkong (Mar 1, 2017 - 6:57 pm)

In a nutshell every Army unit has a certain number of positions that they can man, and each one of these positions is designated by a soldiers job type (MOS if enlisted, Branch if commissioned) and by Rank. Typically, under the regulations, they don't want people filling slots that they are not authorized to fill either by rank or job. When I was in the rule was you could serve in a slot that was either 2 grades above or one below your current rank, so long as you were MOS or Branch qualified for said position.

This isn't really a big deal when you are a lower enlisted soldier or a junior officer in a big field in the reserves, like say quartermaster for instance (the Army Reserves is mostly a support role, very few line combat units in the reserves, so more paper pushers and bullet counters, less trigger pullers). However, if your in a smaller job field, like say JAG, once you pick up rank beyond CPT its going to be increasingly difficult to find a unit that A) has a MAJ or above slot for a JAG officer, AND B) has that slot currently unfilled. Unit politics can also play a roll in all of this because unit commanders have the authority to decline your request to fill a slot on their unit roster, even if your perfectly qualified for it.

When I was in, I knew several MAJ's and LTC's who drilled with unit's half way across the country from their homes of record, just because it was the nearest unit they could get a slot with in their rank and branch. Most of them lost money once you factored in airfare and hotel expenses for the weekend.

ETA: I should also add that there is a way to drill with a unit that you are not assigned to for a certain number of battle assemblies per FY, or there was. However, this practice is generally disfavored as it will probably reflect negatively when it comes time for your rater to compile your annual OER (Officer Evaluation Report)

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newjag17 (Mar 2, 2017 - 12:36 pm)

Interesting! That makes sense--So it sounds as if you reach the fork in the road between advancement and having to drill in a distant unit, the issue will arise unless you happen to luck out with a close one.

Any insight/info on JAG work-life as a Reservist?

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majorkong (Mar 2, 2017 - 1:45 pm)

Can't really speak to JAG specifically as that wasn't my field when I was in. However, I think it all depends on the needs of your unit and your own professional goals. When I was in it was at the height of the GWOT tempo, and I held a very in demand MOS. Balancing any kind of civilian life/career was impossible at that time because I was constantly either A) Deployed, B) Assigned TDY to support training for other units deploying, or C) On orders to complete various schools that the Army requires at various stages of your career.

Now that the mission tempo has cooled down somewhat I have to imagine things are better and more stable for reservists, but of course that can all change at a moments notice if we decide to ramp up our involvement again in certain hot spots.

If you enjoy being a reserve JAG, but you find yourself dealing with some of the issues I mentioned in the previous post, you might want to look into transferring to your state's national guard when you become eligible for such a move. There are downsides to this as well, (specifically there is much less opportunity to move up in rank). However, many state's also have some additional benefits and protections for state employees (I'm assuming you qualify as such as a DA) who are also guard soldiers, plus you'll at least be able to stay within the confines of your state on drill weekends.

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porochi (Mar 2, 2017 - 9:25 pm)

MAJ Kong is right about career progression. In my JAG unit we had 1 Major leave to drill at a unit in New Orleans, nearly 1000 miles away. Another left for a unit in Las Vegas, even further, and most MAJ and above had to travel at least 200-300 miles and incur lodging expenses on their own dime to drill at other units. Why? Because once you hit Sr. Captain level, typically after 7-8 yrs in, you need to find a higher graded slot with more responsibility so you can get the next promotion, to Major. And it's the same for the next ranks, LTC and higher. On the Active side of the house, officer promotion and movement are generated for you, you move when they say to move and they pay for it. But on the Reserves, you are your career manager and in the small branches like JAG you'll have to hunt and peck for the next slot and compete for it. And the higher you go, the fewer the slots and more competition. And if you don't get promoted, 2x passover, you're out. And it happens, especially now with the operational tempo down and the military still in sequestration, meaning capped funding. So if you want to make it a career, be prepared to fight for scraps. Units on the east coast have more opportunities locally, esp. JAG (JA in military parlance, Judge Advocate). More people, larger urban areas so more units. I was way out west where there were fewer units and even fewer JA slots. It was hard to find that next slot if you couldn't travel far due to family obligations, work, etc. Most got out after a few years. The unemployed or underemployed could make it a career. Oddly, the worst lawyers actually made promotion. The good ones were tied down with civilian jobs and couldn't take the time away to travel halfway across the country and drill with some remote unit. But an out of work atty. sure could.

As far as work life balance, the work itself, esp. the training, can be very interesting, at least I found it so. I loved going to the JAG School on the campus of UVA in Charlottesville, VA. High speed training and many interesting short courses you can take there. But real life JA work, at least in my unit, was mostly providing legal assistance to old military retirees who wanted to re-do their will or get an advanced directive. There were some separation boards where I was either the prosecutor (called the Recorder) or a quasi-judge, called Legal Advisor. They're somewhat like a Courts Martial but instead of convicting a soldier and sending him to Ft. Leavenworth they'd boot him out of the Army with an Other Than Honorable (OTH) or General Discharge. Those could be quite interesting, when they came around, although most of the cases were soldiers who popped hot (dirty UA) during a random drug test. I did board out one officer who refused to mobilize with his unit to Iraq. Bastard should have been courts martialed but in the reserves that is complicated, UCMJ jurisdiction can be altogether quite different on the Reserve side of the house as compared to the Active duty side. You'll learn how and why, too long to explain here. But suffice it to say, if you want to play like Tom Cruise and courts martial Jack Nicholson, go active, of if you get in a Reserve Unit and land a JA slot there, volunteer to mobilize and go active for a stint, otherwise you won't get any courts martial experience on the reserve side. They board them, which is not nearly as much fun. And s***heads who do stuff like miss movement (scared to go to Iraq, in a garrison unit, I'm still very mad about that one) just get a General Discharge and get sent packing. But that's a very rare bird indeed, if your reserve JA life is anything like mine you'll write wills, POA's and living wills for some retired SGT or MSG, who is seeking to update his estate plan for the umpteenth time, because, hey, its free. Enjoy.

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newjag17 (Mar 4, 2017 - 3:31 pm)

Porichi:

Thank you so much for such a detailed posting--it's exactly that type of info that is so hard to come by on the web. JAG was and is something I've always been interested in--I totally assumed that the most "holistic" JAG experience would have required AD but comes with downsides too and always just a personal choice. Honestly at this point, I am already having to waive off military retirement since I can't get 20 years in before 62 which is totally fine with me. Would you say that IF somebody wanted the experience both training and actual JAG experience even if not "Few Good Men"-level, you would recommend it all things being equal and in your opinion? For me, I spend a huge amount of time in Court already as a prosecutor so I know for me, I'm certainly not going to feel deprived if I dont get assigned to true court-martials, etc. If they happen, fine but not really expecting it which also is fine. As I told them in my interview, I actually can enjoy any legal assignment (Legal Services, wills, divorces, admin) since I have always been drawn to JAG. If at end of initial 8yrs is it? I cannot find any local Units etc based upon the issues you described, I would definitely re-evaluate. It sounds though that overall you would recommend it providing one has realistic expectations on both the daily work and challenges with promotion?

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porochi (Mar 7, 2017 - 11:45 pm)

I do. I'm proud of my service. But it wasn't what I expected, I felt like a bench warmer who never got in the game. Reserve JA duty turned out to be almost all Legal Assistance doing estate planning and advising Private Snuffy on how to go about getting a divorce. I'd go to the JAG School for training and learn sexy stuff like the Law of War, Operational Law, Trial Advocacy (moot courts martials) then return to my Reserve unit to write more wills and advise more Private Snuffy's on how to divorce their baby mamma. Wash and repeat. After 11 years I got out. But if your employer is tolerant of your military service, volunteer for Active Duty mobilizations. Mostly it's going to be CONUS (continental U.S. posts) filling in at an active duty JAG shop, but there you can get real world Active Duty JA experience. Military Justice, Operational Law, etc. But be prepared, often the USAR mobilized JA augmentees get parked in Legal Assistance. Doing what? Writing wills for retired MSG's and advising Private Snuffy on how to divorce his baby mamma. If you volunteer for Active Duty, volunteer for at least a 6 month mobilization. That's long enough to get a taste of the other JAG shops, military justice (courts martials) Administrative Law, Operational Law. It is harder these days to find those mobilizations though, the operational tempo is down, I mean, we no longer have 160,000 troops in Iraq and 100,000 more in Afghanistan. So the overseas slots are taken by Active Duty JA's and there's not as much need for Reserve JA augmentees. So you might find yourself stuck doing the estate planning merry go round for a long time. Wearing the uniform though, is an honor. That is worth it. Good luck.

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bankofmouse (Mar 8, 2017 - 11:09 am)

Did you know of any attorneys in the reserve who signed on for non-JAG officer careers? I'm interested in joining reserve but not terribly interested in being a JAG.

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tom_foolery (Mar 8, 2017 - 1:19 pm)

There are tons of civilian attorneys who are in reserves/national guard who are in non JAG jobs. Would be a great segue to get out of law. Lots of great opportunities.

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newjag17 (Mar 10, 2017 - 4:21 pm)

Porochi:

Seriously, thank you so much for the detailed perspective! Based upon a few Reserve JA's I chatted with online during the application process, they all said that if a Reservist wants the true, complete JAG experience that comes with Active Duty, it's all about mobilizing for an extended period. For example, this one Reserve JA who is a full-time law professor indicated to me that a colleague of his was able to mobilize into a Trial Counsel (prosecution) position at Ft. Hood in Texas for a year assignment. Sounds great IF you could swing that with your full-time gig plus domestic situation (house, family, etc). I like what you said though about the training and honor of service irrespective of the actual "sexiness" of the work in typical Reserve roles.
As far as the processing part for those interested, I recently took my medical and vision tests--I have to say the processing, appointments, and assorted logistics were very well done. After JARO sets it up online for those accepted into JAG, an applicant goes through DODMets site completing a medical survey and contacting the assigned optometrist and medical location to take your exam. I did both of mine the same day--the vision part was at a really nice private Optical shop. The staff was super friendly although they cannot and will not provide you with any specific information about your test results, the military thresholds, etc. They make it clear they are there to conduct the assessment then e-mail the results to the DOD. As far as my vision testing, I absolutely have to wear contacts/glasses without which I am like a bat but corrected to about 20/20 or so, therefore, I will be interested to see if I need a waiver. My FSO, whom I have maintained contact with since I interviewed to kind of check-in in the event I had questions, indicated that vision waivers are pretty common in JAG especially since we are not trying to fly a plane. After the vision test, I went to one of those places that seems to do emergency walk-in care, drug testing etc. The staff was super nice, the facility very organized. Testing including basic vitals, a hearing test, etc although nothing invasive like blood. I had to take with me the detailed medical survey from DodMets site.
As of today, all of the exam info has been loaded onto the DodMERB site which is the primary Review Board that will provide a decision within the next couple of weeks. Apparently, the decision can be "Qualified", "Needs additional records or testing", or "Disqualified" meaning which you would need a waiver which depends upon a myriad of factors--the site even says that asking "What If" scenarios or how many waivers are granted, etc is pointless since it is almost impossible to generalize given the differences in branches, jobs, conditions, etc.
Signing out for now but let me know if you have any questions and wish me luck!

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data (Mar 22, 2017 - 9:38 am)

I was also accepted in the Dec 16 board as a reservist. I would echo almost everything in this thread so far. The things that newjag17 said about the application process are all true and my response to interview questions were very similar to his. The FSO was very happy to hear that I specifically WANTED to not be AD so that I could also have a civilian career and not move around every two years.

Regarding porochi's description of what JA Reservist life / career management is like, just about everything he has said is similar to what I have heard from the 4-5 JAG reservists I have talked to since being accepted. I think the only exception may be that since I am based on the east coast, there are more local units to join rather than having to deal with long travel. The one thing I would say I am confused about is the cost of travel and lodging. I was told that if you end up joining a unit that is more than 100 miles away, you would be provided with mileage reimbursement and lodging on battle assembly weekends. Is this not true?

Regarding the screening / in-processing: my experience so far has echoed newjag17's. My opto visit was almost identical to his (bad vision included, but should be within the limit), and my DoDMERB was similar in that it was at an urgent care facility that also does immigrant medical screening tests. Unfortunately it took all day, but it got the process moving along.

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antonjart (Mar 22, 2017 - 2:26 pm)

You guys provided some really nice advice. I got accepted into the RC as well, but would love much to get into Active Duty ASAP. I was told about numerous billets available for RC JAGs to pick up. Do you guys know anything about this?

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data (Mar 22, 2017 - 4:17 pm)

I know a bit about this. Once you are through with training, there are many opportunities to mobilize as a RC JAG. There are many, and they range in duration from 2 weeks to 1 year. the locations are all over the world. The majority are in the US or Germany, and a few are in combat zones.

My understanding is that you simply select one that you would like to do and apply / volunteer. There are also supposedly other lists that get circulated within the units asking for volunteers.

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antonjart (Mar 22, 2017 - 10:34 pm)

Thank you, this is reassuring!

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