California State Military Department
The California Military Museum
Preserving California's Military Heritage
California Center for Military History
Frequently Asked Questions about the State Military Reserve
Q. WHAT EXACTLY IS THE CALIFORNIA STATE MILITARY RESERVE?
 
First off, the California State Military Reserve (CA SMR) is NOT a private militia. The CA SMR is part of the Total Force of the California State Military Forces authorized by the Constitution of the State of California, which include the California Army National Guard, the California Air National Guard, and the California Naval Militia.
 
All SMR members take an oath of allegiance to the Governor of California and the President of the United States, as well as uphold the Constitution of the State of California and the Constitution of the United States. The California State Military Reserve is California's State Defense Force organized under the provisions of Title 32, United States Code, Section 109 and the California State Military Reserve Act (Sections 550 through 567, California Military and Veteran's Code.) It is the volunteer, uniformed backup and support organization of the California Army and Air National Guard. Its members are subject to call to state active duty by the Governor of the State of California and are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
 
The easiest description of an SMR soldier is that of a non-federalized National Guard member. SMR soldiers share the same exact State mission as their National Guard counterparts, but not the Federal mission. It should be noted that Army and Air National Guard members function in their State mission capacity most of the time, only getting "federalized" during times of great emergency or war.
 
Q. WHO CAN JOIN THE CALIFORNIA STATE MILITARY RESERVE?
 
Any resident citizen over 18 years of age. The only restrictions are members of the active or reserve components of the U.S. military forces. Individuals who have been convicted of a felony or who have received dishonorable discharges from the armed forces may also be excluded. Please refer to the Eligibility section at the bottom of this page.
 
Q. HOW MUCH OF MY TIME AM I OBLIGATED TO GIVE?
 
Drills (meetings) are held monthly and are usually eight (8) hours on one Saturday each month. These are used for training sessions, activity coordination, and to work with your National Guard counterparts. Your particular assignment may require additional hours of work to organize your section or staff or to complete necessary projects. These additional hours may be done at home or at your leisure.
 
Q. WILL I BE PAID FOR MY TIME AND OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES?
 
Generally, no. However, because the California State Military Reserve is a state military force, members are subject to call to active duty by the governor. When that happens, SMR members may be paid at the same rate of pay for their rank or grade as their National Guard counterparts. There are also missions which may allow for per diem and reimbursed expenses. However, any reimbursable expenses must be approved in advanced by your chain of command.
 
Q. WHAT UNIFORM WILL I WEAR?
 
You will wear the standard Army Class "A" and "B" uniforms as well as the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) with distinctive state insignia designating you as a member of the California State Military Reserve.
 
Q. DOES THE CALIFORNIA STATE MILITARY RESERVE FURNISH UNIFORMS?
 
No. Currently, all officers and enlisted members are responsible for purchasing their uniforms and accessories.
 
Q. HOW WILL MY RANK BE DETERMINED?
 
Applicants will be evaluated and appointed or enlisted to an appropriate rank based on the authorized job position (billet) the applicant will be filling within the unit, as well as on a basis of prior service, education, civilian occupation, and other factors, in accordance to California State Military Reserve regulations.
 
Q. ARE THESE "REAL" OFFICER AND ENLISTED RANKS?
 
According to California State Law, California State Military Reserve officer and enlisted personnel normally rank amongst themselves. However, when on state active duty, SMR soldiers rank among state active duty members of the California National Guard, which includes both the Army and Air Divisions.
 
As far as being "real" officers and enlisted people: All appointments, commissions, warrants, and enlistments are recognized and authorized by the Governor of the State of California through the Adjutant General of the State of California. SMR members can be called to active duty, have the legal authority to command troops, and participate in real-world missions on the behalf of the Military Department of the State of California. So, YES, State Military Reserve officers and enlisted soldiers are very much "real."
 
Q. AM I REQUIRED TO PASS A PHYSICAL EXAM?
 
Applicants are required to submit a "Report of Medical History" signed by their health professional as part of the application package.
 
Q. WHAT OTHER OBLIGATIONS WOULD I HAVE?
 
You will take an oath when you join and you are expected to live up to that oath. You are expected to make your drills, or if you cannot due to personal hardship, call your commander and explain your situation. Repeated absences without permission will result in discharge. You must wear your uniform properly and only when attending drills, other CA SMR functions, or as otherwise allowed by regulations or your commander. All rules of military courtesy will be observed while in uniform.
 
Q. CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT I'M NOT GOING TO BE PAID, BUY MY OWN UNIFORM, AND PERFORM WORK -- WHY SHOULD I JOIN THE CALIFORNIA STATE MILITARY RESERVE?
 
For the same reason that successful business people join civic clubs. They pay dues, contribute their time and talents for the benefit of their community. While the California State Military Reserve is not a civic club, it is a public service organization for the people of the state and requires an obligation on the part of its members. You will serve with people who are patriotic and have a knowing respect for military preparedness. You will be carrying on a tradition of volunteer military service dating back to the creation of the United States. Last, but most challenging, you will have the opportunity to utilize the training you have had in the military and civilian life to develop and help build the cadre of the California State Military Reserve.
 
Q. HOW DO I BEGIN THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
Contact us at webmaster@militarymuseum.org
 
Q. WHY INTERVIEW FOR A VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION?
 
This part of the application process ensures that:
The applicant is fully aware of his/her obligations as well as all aspects relating to membership in the organization.
The applicant is fully qualified for membership and that there is a position available in the unit where the applicant may serve.
 
Q. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO PROCESS THE PAPERWORK?
 
The enlistment or officer appointment process will take about two months or longer if any part of your application packet is incomplete or inaccurate. This is because all SMR personnel action orders originate in Sacramento and is processed through the Office of the Adjutant General, California Military Department.
 
Be advised that the State Military Reserve forms become official California Military Department documents, and any misrepresentations or omissions are subject to penalties as defined under the California Military and Veterans Code.
 
When processing is complete and you are sworn in, you are then subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
 
Q. DO I START BUYING MY UNIFORMS AND ATTENDING DRILLS RIGHT AWAY?
 
Normally no. According to CA SMR regulations, non-members may not participate in drill or any other official activities. We suggest that you hold off on making any uniform purchases until your orders are published in Sacramento, in case there are any complications with your application packet.

MEMBERSHIP ELIGIBILITY:
 
To be eligible for enlistment or appointment in the California State Military Reserve, an applicant must be between 18 and 60 years of age, be a citizen of the U.S. (or have declared intent to become a citizen) and reside in California.
 
Aliens who have made legal declaration to become citizens of the U.S. must present a U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Form N-315, authenticated by a Federal District Court Officer.
 
Applicants without prior military service, who have specialized skills and education, may be enlisted or appointed with the approval of Headquarters, California State Military Reserve.
 
Applicants must have demonstrated understanding and proficiency in the English language and must be a high school graduate or have passed the GED test.
 
Applicants must be medically qualified.
 
MEMBERSHIP INELIGIBILITY:
 
Applicants ineligible for enlistment or appointment include.
 
Convicted felons.
 
Persons adjudged a youthful offender.
 
Persons on parole or probation.
 
Individuals with a RE-4 reenlistment code on their DD 214.
 
Persons with prior service whose discharge was other than "Honorable."
 
Persons adjudged as a security risk.
 
Conscientious objectors.
 
Persons not meeting current height/weight standards (CA SMR Reg 600-9)
 
Active members of any component of the U.S. Armed Forces.
 
Individuals convicted of offenses involving moral turpitude.
 
Individuals with significant medical disqualifications (i.e. diabetes, epilepsy, etc.)
 
Individuals receiving medical disability annuity. (Contact SMR Headquarters for percentage allowances.)
 
Persons required to register for the Selective Service, but have failed to do so.
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