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.

Those in the IRR that do not report for involuntary activation should expect to eventually receive a General Discharge under “Other than Honorable” conditions from the IRR. Again, this will not affect your active duty discharge—from which all of your military benefits are based on. However, there are other considerations to be aware of.

A “bad” discharge from the IRR may negatively impact an individual during an in-depth background check. These are done for job applicants applying for positions with the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, etc.
Resisting Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) recall by Courage to Resist. February 2009

It is worth noting that in today’s world, more and more databases are being interconnected daily. So while this information is hard to come by for a potential employer today, it may become easier in the future. An employer may use this information to make a general assessment about your “moral” qualifications or character. If this is an important concern for you, you may want to make the effort to formally apply for an exemption from activation.

For those that have received an OTH discharge from the IRR and are now facing an in-depth security background check, experts recommend being up front with your interviewers/interrogators about this issue. You should preemptively take the opportunity to frame the situation regarding the IRR to them, before they find out about it elsewhere.

Usually in these situations, if you fail the background check, you will not receive any reason as to why. This being the case, you will probably not have a chance to explain the situation unless you do so up front. Also, if you applied for an exemption from activation but were turned down, you can make the argument that you followed the rules to the best of your ability, but it was the military that screwed up and failed to grant the exemption you warranted.

We have been in contact with a number of IRR refusers who have continued to work in the law enforcement community without issue. Recently, a friend of ours asked an FBI recruiter at a job fair if an IRR OTH disqualified an individual from applying. Their reply was that it would not prevent someone from becoming an FBI agent, but that it would be among the things they would review as part of the "whole picture".