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Can the military involuntarily extend a member's enlistment?

Ever have a job that turned out to be more than you bargained for? Chances are that many readers have experienced work situations that required them to learn new skills on the job. 

In the armed forces, especially, it can be easy to imagine many scenarios that test the limits of a service member’s training, especially if he or she is in active combat. There is one work situation, however, that may require legal assistance, instead of facing alone: involuntarily extended active duty.

When might this situation arise? Our military defense law firm observed that some reservists and National Guard members were ordered to serve involuntary extended active duty during the start of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. However, it is important to remember that a service member who receives such an order may have a situation that could qualify for a delay or even an exemption.

To bring a special family, economic or medical condition to the attention of the applicable military department, a member should apply for a delay or exemption. An attorney can help with the specific procedures, as well as documenting and explaining all available reasons in support of the request, such as severe personal hardship. In the event the request is denied, an appeal of the decision may be available.

Admittedly, going to war is a unique situation. However, a recent article described a commandant’s concern over potential staffing shortages in the area of cyber warfare. The commandant specifically fears that the military doesn't seem able to retain members skilled in the cyber domain beyond the terms of their enlistment. Such members are leaving to seek more profitable opportunities in the private sector, using the skills they learned in the military. Could cyber warfare warrant an involuntary extension of duty? Only time will tell.

Source: Washington Free Beacon, “Marines Worry About Losing Cyber Warriors,” Morgan Chalfant, Aug. 9, 2016

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