Tuesday, April 17, 2012

After swearing in, before drill

Once you swear in, there will be a few weeks of waiting until you are "in the system". Once that happens you have some things to do. Some may be done for you by your recruiter. Many will not be.

1>Get an ACU and IPFU -Uniform and Exercise uniform. Check the Newbie Pearls for more info what these entail. If you can, have your recruiter bring you to the Post Exchange (PX) at the base your swear in at. Buy these on day #1. That way you have some help. Yes, that's right you are buying your own uniforms out of your own pocket.  You get a small clothing allowance when you attend basic (OBLC) later on, but it is not now and not enough for everything you need. Joining the guard as an officer will cost you about $500 bucks out of pocket when all is said and done.

If your recruiter can't/won't bring you (or no PX where you sign up at) then you must wait until your information  is in the system. Then you can go to a PX on your own. You need printed orders and normal ID (drivers license) to get on base and to purchase from a PX. Later, your military ID will take care of that instead. While at the PX you can have your 'ACU Tapes' (LAST NAME and US ARMY velcro) made and  purchase a rank and have it sewn onto your patrol cap.

Experiences people in the Army hate the velcro for many reasons. You are now allowed to have some things sewn onto your uniform. Don't do it for now. You're new. You don't know what you're doing. Just get the things that are easily undone and then you can get stuff sewn on later.

You can order ACU's and other gear from commercial sources. Don't do it YET. It's a great route later on. Again, you don't know what you are doing right now. Just get regulation stuff from the PX for this first uniform to get comfortable with it.

2>Print your orders. At some point you will get a copy of your orders. Make about 5 copies up front and always have two on you when you are doing ARNG stuff...until you get your Army ID.

3>Setup your AKO account. https://www.us.army.mil

4>Order/Request a CAC (Common Access Card) readerhttp://militarycac.com/usbreaders.htm - They are about 20 bucks on Ebay if you don't want to wait for an issued one.

5>Get a CAC. Make an appointment in the RAPIDS system. https://rapids-appointments.dmdc.osd.mil
You do not need to wear your uniform for this. You do not need to go to an Army base for this. I went to an Air Force office and had NO wait time and was able to get in with one day notice. The local Army base was backed up for 2 weeks.

6>Order an  Army Officer's Guide . This is a wonderful reference as a stop-gap before you attend officer basic. Especially helpful when it comes to the customs and courtesies portion.

7>Read the 'Newbie Pearls' section for a growing list of how to's that will make enlisted people laugh at us. But hey, it'll save you the jokes when you show up to your first drill!

Good Luck! Congrats on joining! Despite the craziness so far, it sure is fun!

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