JAG: Deciding to join up

I’ve been toying around with the idea of joining the military as a Judge Advocate General for a while. I thought about it in law school, and in the year since I’ve graduated, I haven’t been able to shake it. At this point, I’ve accepted that I have a calling to serve, and I’m trying to find the best way to join up.

I’m going to try and blog pretty regularly about my experience because I’ve found relatively little insight available online. That said, I have found several VERY good blogs on the topic, but few of those are updated regularly, and none are directly relevant to my experience. I’m hoping that, by telling my story, I can help others decide whether JAG is the right choice for them–and how best to go about joining up. Some of the online resources I’ve found useful so far are (in no particular order):

Life of a JAG Wife

Adventures of a New Army JAG Wife

JAGistan

Army Strong Stories (at least the ones tagged “jag”)

(You’ll notice two of these are written not by JAGs themselves, but by their spouses. I’ve been told that any kinds of JAG service is impossible without strong support from your spouse, and I have no doubt it’s true. I’m lucky enough to have Kristen behind me 100 percent.)

OK, back to me. My dad and maternal grandfather both served in the Navy, but sailing’s just not for me. (I’m secretly a little terrified of deep water.) So, I’m making a go at getting in the Army JAG. And, because I’m determined to continue my work as a civilian public servant, I have two choices: the Army JAG Corps Reserve Component and the Army National Guard. Apparently, the two are very similar, and I was originally leaning toward the Reserve Component because of its federal status. Kristen and I want to move to D.C. for a couple years sometime soon, and we may end up in Illinois which is where a LOT of her family members live. Even though I love the idea of doing disaster-relief work through the National Guard, I was afraid its state-specific status would make moving cumbersome. I learned today that National Guard transfers are coordinated through a federal organization, and that put a lot of my fears to rest.

HOW I learned that was a great conversation I had today with a Colonel in the Texas Army National Guard JAG. He’s a family law judge in Houston, and my boss was kind enough to put me in touch with him before Sunday, when I drive to San Antonio to interview with a Field Screening Officer (FSO) for the Army JAG Corps Reserve Component.

I’m a little nervous about that interview–in large part because it takes place about a week before I sit for the Illinois bar exam–but I’m ready to get the ball rolling.

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