This FAQ is related to Courage to Resist’s “Resisting Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) recall” published February 2009. If this question is of interest to you, please read our overview first.

When individuals receive the dreaded IRR involuntary activation packet in the mail there is declaration that they have only 14 days to file for an exemption. However, that is 14 days from the date the orders were issued! That is only a few days from the date they received the packet.

If you are going to file for an exemption, it is important to do it right to have any chance of success. This includes speaking with a military rights advocate (we suggest calling the GI Rights Hotline at 877-447-4487) and compiling any and all supporting documentation. This may take longer than the deadline dictated by the military. Prior to the deadline, we suggest writing a simple and short letter to the military authority stating that you will be filing for an exemption and that your packet will be forthcoming by a certain date. You’ll probably should not give yourself more than an additional two weeks.

The military claims that 13,500 IRR soldiers have requested delays or exemptions since 2001. Of those, 10,500 were granted. Delays and exemptions can be requested for any reason, but the three most common are medical, family care and educationl reasons. Some believe that the military has been managing political opposition and IRR resistance by being fairly willing to grant delay or exemption requests.

If the military statistics are to be believed, they are granting 78% of deferments and exemptions. However, there is reason to believe that 1) they are introducing informal hurdles to applying for these requests (especially for those individuals that attempt to apply for an exemption after physically reporting), and 2) the 78% does not breakdown deferments vs. exemptions. So deferments might be nearly automatic, thereas exemptions might be closer to 50%. However, as of March 2010, it is becoming clear that the IRR command is making harder and harder to win exemptions.

The process for obtaining an exemption is now clearly defined by the Army in Guidance for Requesting Delay or Exemption from Involutary Mobilization (D & E Guide, Sept. 2009).

It should also be noted that the decision to grant exemptions are made by military officers who are very aware of upcoming deployment quotas. If they are desperate to fill certain job slots in a planned mobilization, and you have training in one of those jobs, the command may downplay your exemption request. It is entirely possible to have two very similiar exemption requests result in two different outcomes due to the level of demand for one military skill set and training over an other.

If you currently have a medical disabilities rated at 40% or more by the VA, your exemption is pretty much automatic. A simple phone call to the activation authority may be all you need to do.