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Army Raises Maximum Enlistment Age to 42

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Updated June 26, 2006
The Army has raised the enlistment age to 42 (for Active Duty, Reserves, and Army National Guard), made possible under provisions of the Fiscal Year 2006 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Army raised the active-duty age limit to 40 in January as an interim step while it worked out the additional medical screening requirements for recruits ages 40 to 42. Before January, an applicant could not have reached his or her 35th birthday. The Army Reserve age limit was raised from 35 to 40 in March 2005.

Raising the maximum age for Army enlistment expands the recruiting pool, provides motivated individuals an opportunity to serve and strengthens the readiness of Army units. More than 1,000 men and women over age 35 have already enlisted since the Army and Army Reserve raised their age limits to age 40.

“Experience has shown that older recruits who can meet the physical demands of Army service generally make excellent Soldiers. They are mature, motivated, loyal and patriotic, and bring with them a wealth of skills and experience to our Army,” said Col. Donald Bartholomew, U.S. Army Recruiting Command Assistant Chief of Staff, G5.

“We certainly do not expect for this change to result in a large increase of recruits, however it will allow for those individuals who have the passion for service, but for whatever reason could not serve earlier in their lives, the opportunity to serve the nation now, when the time is right for them,” he added.

All applicants must meet eligibility standards, to include passing the physical standards and medical examinations; however those 40 to 42 will be given additional medical screening.

For Shannon D. Morris, 36, of Shreveport, La., enlisting in the U.S. Army was a dream-come-true. She said she had wanted to join since she was a teenager but she didn’t get the chance.

“My brother was in the Army and it was always something that I wanted to do,” she said. “My father encouraged me to do it, but I became a mother at a young age and that took the priority.”

Morris thought she had lost her chance, but learned that the Army had raised its age limit when her son, Robert McLain, began talking with an Army recruiter. She said the more her son talked about his decision, the more interested she became in doing something for herself.

“When Robert told me I might still be young enough, the wheels started turning and I thought this might just be my last opportunity to get the benefits for my education and see the world.”

Morris said her family was surprised she wanted to enlist and serve, but they are supportive of her plans. Her mother thought it was a great idea and her husband Rick, a district fire chief who will retire this summer, encouraged her as well.

“My brother thought I was crazy,” she joked. “But he also thought it was great that I was doing it, and I couldn’t believe how supportive everyone was of me. It made me proud to know that they were all behind me.”

Morris, who will be a petroleum lab specialist, left for basic combat training May 25 and McLain followed May 30 to Fort Benning, Ga., where he began training to become a Ranger.

Recruits of all ages are eligible for the same enlistment bonuses and other incentives based on their individual qualifications.

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