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Posted by: Convert ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 04:49PM

So yeah thinks have got pretty bad for me lately. Thinking of joining up. Luckily I am a college grad at the very least and I did a semester of AFROTC in college, just didn't commission, kicking myself now.

Anyway anyone ever know somebody that did this?


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Posted by: SoCalNevermo ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 04:54PM

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Posted by: Convert ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 04:57PM

For the Air Force yes, but not for other branches and such

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Posted by: Hornfan ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 05:07PM

I'm retired USAF with 22 1/2 years service and the AF has been known to grant age waivers previously. Please check all options before enlisting in the Army, also check any possible commissioning programs. You could still retire by age 50.

Good luck.

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Posted by: 2thdoc ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 05:13PM

I was 31 when I entered the Air Force as a Captain. Since you are a college grad I would think you might be eligible to go in as a commissioned Lt., depending on your degree and their need.
If you are thinking of going in at an enlisted rank, you'd probably feel out of place at Basic Training because of your age. However, if the idea of being the "old man" of the group doesn't bother you, go for it.

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Posted by: Convert ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 05:38PM

What is your field? Let me guess, medicine? Mine is Psychology, though I have been thinking of going the IT route

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Posted by: Devoted Exmo ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 06:06PM

I say go for it, if you can get in. I have a brother in the AF, just stationed to England and a son in the Navy, just stationed to Japan (Filipino wife couldn't be happier!).

It's a pretty good life without the worry about health care, retirement, etc.

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Posted by: SilkRose (not logged in) ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 06:24PM

I would HIGHLY suggest attempting to get an age waiver for the Air Force, your life will be much happier and better. Your deployments will be shorter, you will be in far less danger. The Air Force actually cares about its troops.

I had a Bachelor's degree, but chose to enlist as a medic. I don't regret it, but if I could go back and change things, I would have gone officer. A degree is all you need to commission (at least in the Army). You would have to go to OBC (officer basic course). But, you will be paid much better and not treated like a child for the first half of your career.

The upsides to the military life: Free health insurance (but you get what you pay for :(. Good, steady paycheck. Quick advancement that you get for pretty much doing your job on a schedule. You can retire in 20 years. You will gain life experiences you will never otherwise see or do. Travel (but maybe not where you want to be :).

The downsides: If you are married, or have children, think about leaving them every other year for a year. Not being home for births, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, school plays, etc. Going to war (depending on your job) and having to see attrocities beyond any human imagination. Coming home potentially with PTSD, war injuries, etc. Watching your friends die or be severely injured.

Now, to let you opinion may be slightly Jaded. My husband is a two time Purple Heart veteran whom was SEVERELY injured last September on his FIFTH trip overseas (Korea, 3 Iraq, and 1 Afghanistan). He was in a vehicle that was hit by an 82MM Recoiless Rifle (you can google, its about the size of a basketball). He was in an up-armored MRAP. The only reason he is alive, is because the soldier behind him, took the brunt of the round, and was killed. My husband spent two weeks in Germany, then almost a year at Walter Reed Medical Center. He is 26 years old, and can't move his right arm past 20degrees. He looses complete feeling. His shoulder is completely damaged. He can't even have an MRI because the last time they tried, he had so much shrapnel in him that it lifted parts of his body up. The worst part is, there are SO SO SO many worse off then him. Two weeks after his injuries, his best friend, his platoon leader (an officer), and three other soldiers were hit in the same area with an IED. His best friend was instantly killed, his platoon leader was in five pieces, the guy in the back is missing a leg, the guy in the gun turrett was blown out the top (saving his life) and he has steal rods in BOTH legs and his back is all steal. THe other guy is paralyzed from the waste down. The two that were killed left behind wives and children, the three that were injured, are permanately disfigured, and will carry survivors guilt for the rest of their lives. Their average age is 24, with the youngest being 19.

Not that I am complaining, but this all happened while I was very very pregnant. SO, I got the joy of going to three soldier's funerals extremely pregnant. FLying to Germany this way, and being in a foreign town all while dealing with a high risk pregnancy and worrying about my husband.

I'm not telling you these things to scare you. These things are the WORST case scenario. Bear in mind, that these things "always happen to someone else". I was very pro, stay in for my husband. After all, it was a steady paycheck, with good benefits. I can deal with the separations. However, this was life-altering for me and him and everyone we know. Our lives will be forever changed.

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Posted by: anagrammy ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 08:20PM

We don't often remember that the families are also sacrificing for the country and deserve recognition for donating the time they would have otherwise spent with their families.

At least you will have something to show for it later, unlike Mormonism.


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Posted by: orphan ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 09:51PM

Silkrose, many, many thanks to you and your husband. I'm a veteran of nine years and the Viet Nam war. My heart and my thanks go out to you and your husband and all his friends in combat. I know how you feel.

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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 06:25PM

Sound like you may be able to go in as an officer. Much better way to go, as you all ready have the degree.I'd be surprised if the age matters in the Army, as I read it raised it's max age to 42.
It just might be the kind of life you want and need.
Our son just retired from the Army @ 47. It was a good life for the family.

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Posted by: tsawyer2 ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 06:43PM

I'm former Air Force as well although I was enlisted. I got my degree while serving but never tried to get a commission.

Absolutely try to get an age waiver and ask about Officer Training School. If you have a skill the USAF needs they will grant it.

Just as a note to what SilkRose mentioned above. All those things could happen. I knew the risks when I went into the Air Force at age 17 and I did 4 tours in the Middle East (granted it was the first Persian Gulf War era), and saw some things I do not want to talk about, but still, I was proud to serve my country for 10 years on active duty and have no ill effects from it. Lucky me! But think carefully before you sign on. It is a good life, but then again bad things happen too.

Silk - Thank your husband for me for being an American hero and thank you for being a wife to a service member who has been strong enough to weather the tough times. I sincerely believe the families we leave behind when we deploy are just as brave as those who serve on the front lines.

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Posted by: SilkRose (not logged in) ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 10:11PM

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Posted by: bignevermo ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 09:39AM

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Posted by: John Drake ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 08:34PM

I am an Army Officer, having held a commission for just over 27 years. It is not all, by far, that defines me, but it is quite a lot, so I take issue with anyone who says it's a waste, or even a poor life choice.

If you choose to join the Armed Services, then choose whatever branch interests you. They all CARE about their members. Period. Only please, choose wisely. You will be joining a profession that will always consider you a member, whether you stay four years or forty. It is a way of life and an honorable profession.

Be realistic--war is our business. Don't just "join for college". Sure, you can get an education and put food on the table, but it's unrealistic to think (especially in this day and age) that you'll never be in combat.

It doesn't matter if you decide to become an Officer or enlist. Officers are leaders, generalists and managers of people, systems and resources. Enlisted and Non Commissioned Officers are leaders, specialists and the backbone of the force. Everyone has their place.

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Posted by: SilkRose (not logged in) ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 10:20PM

I'm not trying to sound cynical, only realistic. I do realize that my husband is in the second worse case scenario that can happen to a troop. But I can name NUMEROUS incidences that absolutely show that the Army does NOT care about its troops.

Have you ever served on the enlisted side? Just must be aware that the treatment of enlisted men/women is by FAR different then that of officers.

As a medic, I have watched triage in a HOSPITAL based NOT on injury, but rank. THAT is not "caring". I have also observed a WIDOW basically told "thanks for your husband's service, but we have too many cases to continue to help you further" (3 months after his death). I have witnessed incidences in basic training where a drill sergeant watched a soldier fall of the victory tower (Repelling wall), and tell him to suck it up and get over it. Finally, after the kid wouldn't wake up, they brought him to our aid station. Guess what, a BRAIN BLEED and he DIED.

So please, keep on telling me that they "Care". Maybe some do, but in all honesty, troops are quite dispensable. I've witnessed this with other troops at Walter Reed. The first month or so after you get hurt, they treat you like a hero. After that, you are FORGOTTEN. Up until the public outcry of the horrendous physical conditions of Walter Reed, soldiers were left to recuperate in absolute FILTH.

Yes, we all know when we sign that dotted line, that we are at war (well unless you came in before 9/11 but even then your re-enlistment has come up). However, the military needs to KEEP to their promises.

Or, how about when I was STOP-LOSSED for 364 days AFTER my enlistment ENDED? "for the needs of the US Army of course". I served my time. I put in my trip overseas. Yet, they KEPT me after my contract ended. And don't feed me any BS about the IRR. My contract clearly stated "In time of war"...good ole Bush Jr. ended that war in 2005. If they wanted to let me go and re-activate me off the IRR, then that would have been acceptable. But to FORCE me to stay in after my contract ended? Hmm...yep they "cared".

There are a LOT of bad apples that DO NOT care. I could go on, but out of respect for your service as an officer, I won't. Just please realize that you are seeing your experience through rose colored officer glasses.

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Posted by: JohnDrake ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 07:41PM


I'm sorry about your experiences, and what you've seen of the Army, but I still challenge your assertion that it's "all bad". Yes, there are bad leaders, bad policies, instances of unfair treatment, and bad conditions. But that is everywhere, both in military and civilian sectors. I'd have been less likely to take exception had you qualified your objection as "in my opinion", because you are certainly entitled to yours.

No, I have never been an Enlisted Soldier, but I've spent my entire career leading and taking care of them. My troops always ate before me, took leave, and went home before I did. When I commanded a Basic Training Company, I fired three Drill Sergeants after I found out they were abusing my Trainees on the one half day of the week I wasn't there. Kicked them off the Trail. Took their badges and their ASIs, and afterward no other Drill even dared abuse one of my boys. Period.

Bad leaders-I've seen plenty. Superiors, peers and subordinates. Eventually, some of them got too big for their britches and are now out of the Army. Others skated by and are still in. It's unfair, but that's life. And life isn't fair. But I've served with more good leaders than bad. I mean the kind of people who inspire so much confidence that you'd readily storm hell alongside them.

You mention Stop-loss, well I understand your anger with that. I've been a victim (though not to your extent). Preferential medical treatment? Well, I've never seen it, but I can't say that it hasn't happened. I will tell you that I've been in a waiting room full of Enlisted Soldiers and not automatically been "bumped" to the head of the line just because I was an officer.

And I've certainly experienced unfair treatment. I deployed with a malignant narcissist, took care of his incompetent ass, and still had to stand by and watch him get all the glory. I've been passed over five times for War College while peers with less experience (and ability) have sailed through on the first look. I'm promotable to 0-6 but may never see it because the Guard is political and I haven't drunk enough of the kool-aid.

So like you, I've got plenty of reason to be a cynic. But I can't because being a Soldier is part of what I am. I won't apologize for being an officer, because I worked hard to become one. But I never had anything but respect for the Enlisted ranks.

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Posted by: Heathen ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 08:57PM

I was Army for eight years, first enlisted, then officer. I'll echo what JD and others said above. You are not too old to get in (at least for the Army).

All the services take care of their troops. IMO, some seem to make life a little 'nicer' when in garrisson. Air Force comes to mind. This is an observation from having been stationed at a couple of multi-service training schools and an Air Force base.

Keep in mind - the business is war. It could be the worst nightmare you've ever seen. Having said that, some soldiers get lucky. Some end up like SilkRose's husband, or worse.

Do you feel lucky?

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Posted by: Johnny Canuck ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 09:00PM

Go for it...I spent 22 years in the Canadian Army....BTW you can get in here up until the age of 50 and serve until 60...

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Posted by: Johnny Canuck ( )
Date: September 29, 2011 09:03PM

And yesterday someone put another $2000 in my bank account, and that will be indexed back to 1996 when I turn 55....I have been retired since then when I got out of the Reg Force at age 37 with 20 years service. I calculated they have paid me almost a half million in the last fifteen years not to work. :)
Up here time at College is pensionable :).

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Posted by: samuellflyinghorse ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 02:57AM

joined at 42, got out 2 months ago, go where your heart feels, what you want to do cos, every morning you wake up and you have to be happy where you are in life in what you do,
Silk, facebook me!! lovz, Sam!!

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 09:28AM

Where you been? How did it go, anyway? Weren't you "down range," as they say?

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 09:27AM

He's run out of options. In fact, joining at 29, you're left really with the Army as your only option, and probably only as an "Eleven Bang-Bang" (infantry). But he likes guns, so...

I joined at 25 and stayed until 46. I survived. It was a good option because it got me out of a dead-end (but well-paying) job in a mine and then got me edjumacated (sort of), and ultimately into a good job, where I remain still. I would stop short of saying "it is what you make it to be." There are a lot of external influences over which you have no control.

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Posted by: searching27 ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 09:45AM

try to go for the AF. My husband would have, but they had no slots for him opening up and well we chose the Army instead. It isn't TERRIBLE, but the Air Force has it much "nicer" as far as housing, deployment lengths etc.

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Posted by: knotheadusc ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 10:15AM

I think it's a mixed bag, though. Your experience is going to depend a lot on what you're doing, where you end up working, and probably most importantly, who you end up working for. Luck can also come into play.

A lot of people are rooting for the Air Force, but I think it has its problems, too. I am an Air Force brat and am now an Army wife. Personally, I don't think there's that much difference in the facilities. There are differences in where you might serve. Army posts tend to be in yucky areas... although there are joint Army/Air Force reservations now. I know Fort Bragg and Pope AFB merged. So did Langley AFB and Fort Eustis.

I have a friend who joined the Air Force and became an officer. The Air Force paid for him to get a master's degree in English so he could teach at the Academy. He got the degree and they promptly RIF'd him. He is now back in school, getting a second master's degree and waiting tables. He and his wife started their own business, which is slowly getting off the ground, but it was tough going for awhile.

I have another friend who is an Air Force officer. She works in intelligence and spends a lot of time working with Army folks. Consequently, her fellow Air Force officers act like she's disloyal, even though they put her in the position she's in. She gets openly disrespected by other Air Force officers, though the Army officers treat her very well. She deploys all the time, too.

On the other hand, my husband, "John Drake", is an Army officer and has only deployed once so far. I have another friend who is an Army officer who has spent the last four years in Europe... three in Germany and now in the Ukraine. She does challenging work.

Everybody has individual experiences. I think it makes sense to choose the branch that interests you the most. Don't pick a branch just because of the so-called "perqs".

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Posted by: Scott.T ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 09:54AM

Enlisted Army may be an option but no matter what you'll be the "old man" around your fellow enlisted soldiers. When I first enlisted it was after my mission so I was 22 in boot camp and even then felt a little bit "old" compared to all the new HS grads around me.

However as an officer being 30 wouldn't be that unusual. As an officer I'm pretty sure the age limit is at least 35 for all services and specialties (except pilots and such) and since the OP has a degree, applying for a commissioning program is probably the best option and age wouldn't even be an issue.

What is your degree in? Medical and other corps, of course, require a specific degree but there are other options too. Going through OCS as a "line" officer doesn't require a specific major or such and even a generic business or liberal arts degree could get you commissioned in the Supply Corps or something like that if not as a line officer through OCS.

Also, as an officer the pay isn't bad. As a college grad at age 30 I took a pay cut to join for about the first 4 years but am still wearing a uniform today because now I make quite a bit more than I ever could as a civilian doing the exact same job.

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Posted by: sd ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 10:21AM

and the only thing that troubled me about your post was the part about desperation. I had a blast in the AF and wouldn't trade the experience for the world. I agree with other posters that it is the best service. I am obviously biased however. The only problem with the Army and Marines right now is if you join up you will deploy and you might get killed. Not that we all don't recognize that is sort of part of the gig, but you can hedge your bets a little by the service you join. Good luck and don't see it as an act of desperation but rather a leap into adventure.

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Posted by: knotheadusc ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 10:29AM

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Posted by: excatholic ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 10:32AM

Why don't you have other options?

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Posted by: MadameRadness ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 10:55AM

Joining because you feel you have no options left is a bad idea. The folks who join up because they want to serve their nation, or because they have a legitimate interest in the field tend to thrive in the military.

The ones who join because they feel like they have to typically end up miserable. Because it's a hard life, and you honestly need to be in it because you love it.

I wanted to join up so badly, then I took my cousin to his physio at the VA hospital. What an utter shithole that place was. My cat's vet clinic was nicer than the VA hospital. Changed my mind pretty quickly once I realized how poorly the country actually gives back to it's heroes.

I come from a very large military family, with representation in each of the branches. They do all have their problems, but I echo those who say try for the AF. But perhaps you should look at your situation before you start signing papers and taking oaths.

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Posted by: renaissanceray1030 ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 11:07AM

I retired from the US Army. I served as a 2nd Lieutenant in Vietnam, pulled three overseas tours and had two assignments as a field grade officer at the Pentagon. I believe I have seen many sides of military service. May I share my observations, which may not be the same as others have expressed.

I loved the service. I always felt like a member of a team doing something meaningful, even critical for the country we love. In my experience, all ranks of all branches can and do enjoy this very satisfying sense of purpose and comraderie. I think that those who are in the military just for the paycheck would find their life to be quite lonely and arduous.

Officers do in fact enjoy more prestige and receive better pay, better housing, more interesting assignments and better support than enlisted folks. That's not to say enlisting is a mistake. It is not. However, intelligent and capable enlisted men and women, tens of thousands of them, face a sometimes authoritarian class system in the military that is unlike anything in the civilian world. Individuals, of any rank, who have difficulty adapting to military hierarchy and tradition will most probably be uncomfortable.

I agree that enlisted life in the Air Force is superior to enlisted life in other branches. Army barracks are spartan and grossly overpopulated compared to those on air bases. The Army, by its very nature, spends much more time in close proximity to the enemy, with all the danger, tension and angst that entails. And when not on the battle field, the Army often sleeps in the mud and eats cold MREs, while our brothers and sisters in the Air Force go home to carpeted billits, beer and video games. And given our current situation, Marines and Army personnel are certainly the most likely to serve out-side the wire in Iraq and Afghanistan, sometimes in multiple tours, and as has been mentioned, sometimes in stop-loss assignments. I would also point out that generally, the level of education among Air Force personnel is higher than any other service.

Good luck to you, whatever your decision.

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Posted by: Cristina ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 08:01PM

I'm so sorry SilkRose for what you and your husband have been through serving in the military. I too don't think they care enough about the troops. When I was a kid, I remember assuming that people in the military would be taken care of for life. Kids have a lot of feelings and ideas about what's right and fair. There's such a disparity between what's right and all that has happened to members of the military since Bush started his war in 2003. (And the consequences to those who went to Vietnam was also a disgrace.)

Anyway, I am sad to know anyone lives with this kind of stress. Sorry to hear Convert that you feel you have few options. Wish there were good jobs available so that no one had to consider the military for health care and the pay. Wish people had the luxury to go into the military only if it felt like a calling. Whatever you do, I hope its the right thing for you.

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Posted by: knotheadusc ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 08:14PM

I think people in the United States should feel fortunate that serving in the military is still entirely their choice. Even those who join for economic or health care reasons are still ultimately making a choice. In many places around the world, military service isn't a choice.

When I lived in Armenia, young men were required to serve in the military. They were rounded up in trucks if they didn't have paperwork showing that they had done their duty. And, at least in the 1990s, the military in Armenia was very corrupt. People paid commanders to keep their sons off the front lines of Nagorno-Karabakh. I had a friend in the Peace Corps who gave a family in her village $50 so they could pay off their son's commander. $50 in Armenia during the mid 1990s was a lot of money... and it certainly was a lot to volunteers, who were getting about $5 a day. I knew families who left the country so their sons wouldn't have to serve.

I agree that it's best if people join the service because it's a calling. That's why I don't try to talk someone out of joining if that's what they say they want to do. Our military should be staffed with people who want to do the job. And I agree that the military should keep its promises, but ultimately, just like anything else, the ability to keep a lot of those promises depends on adequate funding. And a lot of people are against supporting the military.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/2011 08:26PM by knotheadusc.

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Posted by: Cristina ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 08:22PM

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Posted by: DNA ( )
Date: September 30, 2011 10:05PM

Watch the Pat Tillman documentary first. Netflix has it, and it's probably in parts on youtube. I watched it, and just finished the book by Jon Krakauer Where Men Win Glory about Tillman's case.

You probably owe to yourself to watch it before deciding to join.

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