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Volunteer military personnel are volunteer personnel who enter military service. In an army without conscription such volunteers are the main source of military recruitment.

A military volunteer is a person who enlists in military service by free will, and is not a mercenary or a foreign legionaire. Volunteers often enlist to fight in the armed forces of a foreign country.

Many armies, including the U.S. Army, formerly distinguished between "volunteers" enlisted during a war, and "regulars" who served on long-term basis. Troops raised as state militia were always "volunteers" (even when recruited by conscription), while "U.S." troops could be volunteers or regulars. The rank of an officer in a volunteer unit was separate from his rank (if any) as a regular, and usually higher. When the volunteer forces were disbanded at the end of the war, officers with both kinds of commission reverted to their "regular" rank.

See also


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  • Sarnecky, M. T. (1989). A history of volunteerism and patriotism in the Army Nurse Corps: Military Medicine Vol 154(7) Jul 1989, 358-364.
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  • Wyatt, T. C. (1983). A contextual analysis of organizational commitment in the U.S. Army Reserves: Dissertation Abstracts International.