AFROTC Commissioning 2LT to AF or Reserve?


5-Year Member
Apr 4, 2012
Went to DS commissioning last Friday, they gave him a big folder of all his signed paperwork. Looking at it yesterday it indicates he's "Reserve" vs "Air Force". He's going to Pilot training, Oct 1 EAD as of now. Is this normal to have the paperwork reflect "Reserve"? Thanks to anyone who can shed some light.
It wasn't always this way, but these days, all officers (including Academy graduates) are initially commissioned as Reserve Officers. This does not mean the officer is serving in the Reserves.
Without getting too deep into military definitions, "Reserve" is used in different ways.

There are "the Reserves," a familiar concept of being part of a Reserve not active duty unit, doing drill weekends and annual training, being subject to full recall to active duty.

"Reserve" is also a type of commission that some people going active duty get. I went to Navy OCS and was comissioned as an Ensign, USNR, going direct to active duty with a Reserve commission. After two years of active duty, with good performance, I was offered the opportunity to augment from a Reserve commission to an active. I then became a LTJG, USN, with what is called a "regular" commission.

My guess is the second scenario is what applies here. Note the "R" in AFROTC. It stands for Reserve.

There are times down the road when type of commission can make a difference, but that's going way off-topic.

These may help:

And a 2009 SAF thread:

Service Academy grads get a Regular commission - but that has gone back and forth in recent years. I just realized I am not sure of current policy.
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Sorry that I posted bad information. Thanks for the quick correction Capt MJ.
Sorry that I posted bad information. Thanks for the quick correction Capt MJ.

USMC - I realized I wasn't quite sure myself about SA. It was Regular at USNA for the longest time, then a period of Reserve, then it changed back, and that's where it is in my mind. I needed to back off from a blanket statement about SAs until I had a minute to check, as I am fond of saying, a primary source.
I had no idea these things changed as much as they do. I came out of NROTC with a "Regular" commission as did the Academy grads back in my day. PLC and OCS Officers came in with "Reserve" commissions. As Capt MJ notes, these things change occasionally.
Despite the slight thread unravelings, I hope these posts help.

Reserve vs. Regular commissions is a force-shaping tool used by the Services at various times. If an officer has a Reserve-type commission, he or she can serve their obligated time and decide they love it and want to do another tour. If the Service is in a period of down-sizing, and is fat on officers in that year group or specialty, they can decline to offer additional orders and instead issue separation orders. That's a severe scenario, but cyclically, it does happen.
When one is in between commissioning and EAD they are in the Air Force Reserves. In fact, when one contracts in AFROTC they actually contract into the Air Force Reserves. Nothing unusual. He will "transfer" to Active Duty Air Force once he inprocesses into his first assignment. It's more of an administrative action as he has to have a unit to do all of the paperwork.
I always wondered about that period for ROTC in between commissioning and reporting to first active duty station. I had a sense they were some flavor of Reserve. Post above makes perfect sense, thanks.
I knew I could count on this forum for quick answers! Thank you all so much.
The explanation AlphaAlphaSigma gives is same understanding my DS has.
Appreciate everyone's input.
are they eligible for TRICARE when they are in this status in the USAF? By that i mean, do they have health insurance between the time they commission and the time they report to their first duty station? In some cases, this can be over 500 days
If you are AFROTC, your commissioning papers will say "Reserves". If your report date is 2, 4, 0r 10+ months later, you are not eligible for Tri-care, nor will you receive compensation. You are basically a civilian until you report for training and/or active duty. It is my understanding that your official seniority date will fall halfway between your commissioning date and your reporting date.
If I recall correctly my DS was allowed to sign up for some type of health care. He would not be allowed to go to the base doc, only on the economy. He did not take it because he had only 4 months to wait until he reported, so he just took the risk of hoping not to get injured or sick.

Aulysses is correct about DOR. They take your commissioning date and report date and split it down the middle. IE our DS's DOR is July even though he commissioned in the end of May. That being said your longevity pay is your commissioning date.
~ Commission May 2017. Report Sept 2017. DOR is July
~~ May 2019 you will get the O1 2+ yr pay bump. You will pin on O2 in July.
~~~ That is one of the big differences from ROTC grads compared to SA grads. SA grads DOR is their commission date.
I would say there is one huge thing about the type of commission. Yes, they will be ADAF just like an SA grad. Nobody at their assignment will care left, right, up or down what type of commissioning. However, HQ AF does care. If there is a RIF like in the 90's, than the ROTC grads go up on the chopping block before the Acad grads, because of that key word RESERVE.
~ In 92, they hit the 86 ROTC yr group at a 95% rate.

I don't know about now, but when Bullet was ADAF they typically stayed "Reserve" until 7 yrs in, right before they are put up for the O4 board. Back than they had below zones for O4. Thus, now it might be later on because I believe they no longer have BPZs for O4.

Our DS has 5 yrs in now (ADAF pilot) and he is still considered Reserve from the eyes of HQ AF.