Test program to up RC enlistment age
March 22, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 22, 2005, Army News Service) -The Army has announced a three-year test program to evaluate raising the reserve-component non-prior-service maximum enlistment age from less than 35 years of age to less than 40 years of age.
The program will evaluate the feasibility of a permanent change to the enlistment policy for the Army reserve components, officials said. The test will begin immediately and continue through Sept. 30, 2008.
"We looked at policies that we have in place that might be restricting recruiters from achieving their mission," said Lt. Col. Roy Steed, chief, Recruiting and Policy Branch, under the Army G1 (Personnel).
"Raising the maximum age for non-prior-service enlistment expands the recruiting pool, provides motivated individuals an opportunity to serve, and strengthens the readiness of Reserve units."
All applicants must meet the same eligibility standards, to include passing the same physical standards and medical examination.
Experience has shown that older recruits who can meet the physical demands of military service generally make excellent Soldiers based on maturity, motivation, loyalty, and patriotism, Steed said.
"Historically, people in this age group have wanted to serve, but may have been turned down only on the basis of their age," Steed said. "We don't want to turn away these motivated people who come to us and want to serve their country."
The Army is constantly looking at ways to better reflect the fast-changing American society.
"When you look across the population, we are living longer and now a 40-year-old can be in better physical shape than a 20-year-old," said Command Sgt. Maj. Michelle S. Jones, top NCO in the Army Reserve. We are more concerned about our recruits' level of fitness rather than just their age."
Even if a motivated individual is not yet in peak physical condition, the Army will help those individuals who may need extra help prepare for the physical demands of basic training.
"The Army has a program called the Future Soldier Training program to help individuals get ready for basic training. We will encourage these individuals to participate in the program. Recruiters work with them in several areas, and one of those areas will be physical training," Steed said.
The impact of the measure on meeting enlistment goals has not been forecast, but it is expected to contribute to the Army's efforts to recruit top-quality individuals.
"We want to test the program first to validate the change in the age restriction, and then compare attrition rates between different age groups," Steed said.
At this time, the program does not extend to active-duty Army enlistments, which are set by law rather than policy, Steed said.
The Army Reserve can benefit from the contributions of motivated and mature individuals who make a conscious and informed decision to serve their country, Jones said.
"We're talking about a mature and motivated person who is making a very informed decision about pursuing a different direction in life," Jones said. "They may have always wanted to join the Army, and now have a chance to do it. They have a lot of experience in life, and they bring that to the table."
The concept of increasing the maximum enlistment age was initially discussed this past fall, Steed said. The Army requested and received an exception to Department of Defense policy that set the maximum enlistment age in the active and reserve components at less than 35 years of age.