I hope by sharing this I help others recognize the value of this path to a commission. My youngest son wanted to join the national guard after high school and before starting college. He had a strong desire over time so we supported his decision. We didn't realize all of the benefits this decision would bring. He went air national guard and spent the year after high school training and working at the air base. The college he wanted to attend had an air national guard base near by and this drove his decision as well as the 20K bonus for finishing his training. He started college with a big pile of money in the bank with the state paying his tuition and the GI bill paying his room and board. He works at the base on breaks and all summer. I bought a boat. He enrolled in AFROTC and was surprisingly the only guard airman in the group. There is no doubt his guard duty helped his ranking and him obtaining an EA this year. The real up side will come when he commissions. He will be an 0-1 over 5 years of service for pay purposes which means he will make a about $800 per month more than his classmates. It is worth about 150K over a 20 year career. Also, he will commission with about 800 duty days, meaning he will be eligible to retire after about 17.5 years of active duty. Since he would be say an 0-5 over 24 years for pay purposes when he hits 20 years, his retirement will be a couple hundred dollars per month greater than a classmate who retires at 20. That's about an extra 200K or more over his life for that "lost" year after high school. (Not counting the fully funded college education.) Most importantly, he loves working at the base and knows he wants to continue with the Air Force. Given the limited opportunities for a commission in the next few years, this path may have even more value. I should have bought a bigger boat.