Army at 34?


August 22, 2005, 05:50 PM
Sorry about the off-topic post, but I value the opinions of THR members above most others on this topic.

I'm turning 35 in about a month, and one of my biggest regrets in the last 5 years is that I never served. Having been recently divorced, I now have a chance to give the Army one last crack at me.

I'm not overweight, but I'm fairly out of shape and have been smoking for about 16 years :uhoh:.

I'd like to hear any advice from veterans, especially those who joined later in life, regarding whether I should go ROTC, whether I'll survive boot camp, how the older guys are accepted by the other soldiers, what I should do to prepare, etc.

If you enjoyed reading about "Army at 34?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
August 22, 2005, 05:52 PM
Join the police force :p

August 22, 2005, 05:59 PM
If you want to fight, I commend you but I would have to say you are too old. infantry combat is a young mans game. If you would settle for anything less than being behind a trigger you can "serve" your country better doing something else. You are still young enough to be a police officer. Not that I am fond of cops but someone has to do it and in a couple years you could go over there in the sandbox doing LE and really be in the thick of it. I did some interesting stuff in the military; very exciting and dangerous. But you pay for it and the price is high (incredibly boring, tedious, and frustrating most of the time- a tremendous waste of time). If I had it to do over again- I would not.

August 22, 2005, 06:14 PM
You are to set in your ways to try and deal with the service.

That said, I commend you on the thought. Go to a recruiter and talk to them about it and what it means to you and what you want to get out of it. If it is about serving your country, know that you would do it in a heartbeat if you had to and feel good about it, vote, practice and preach your rights.

August 22, 2005, 06:16 PM
I don't think being a policeman is close enough to be a good substitute. Don't miss the opportunity to serve. Spend a few months preparing (although the first PT run was further on the way OUT, than I had ever run in my life...and still had to get back).

The DI's are trained not to kill recruits in training and usually don't--we didn't lose anyone from my company, and only one guy that I know of in the whole battalion. (Heat stroke, iirc).

Whatever you do, go Infantry. :evil:

(Oh, I don't think anyone will care if you're older--only if you can't keep up, no matter what the age.)

August 22, 2005, 06:21 PM
I say go for it!

I'm somewhat in the same situation. I'll be 32 when I go to basic.

August 22, 2005, 06:24 PM
Go for it, but I might suggest Navy....I did.... ;)

August 22, 2005, 06:29 PM
What ever you decide, do it quick.

Once you turn 35, you can't go active duty army. You can still join the reserves until 39 though...


Derek Zeanah
August 22, 2005, 06:32 PM
Some mixed thoughts about playing infantry:

1) It's a kid's game. Most go in at 17-18, buy in to the training (I don't know if you can legitimately call it "brain washing," but folks come out better disciplined then they go in, and there's something of a disconnect going on there -- my experience as a 20 year-old who was more educated and more resistant to it than most, but still refused to sleep in a sleeping bag or use anything other than the gear in my fanny pack when it was sleeting and 15^F in Germany because I thought it more worthwhile to train as I would actually perform if we had to deploy...), and play unthinking unquestioning soldiers for a few years.

If you're enough of a "thinker" that you like to get into discussions of things like "rights" and "enumerated powers," and "justice," then there's a chance you'll stand out in the ranks. In a bad way. Take it from someone who used to rag on his platoon leader for his choice of major ("hey, sir: what's the integral of a natural log?") and push the limits in general ("Sniper Check, Sir!" when saluting) -- if you stand out they can make it hurt.

2) It's a kid's game. Infantry work is painful, and IMHO the importance of the training we did was more to get you to adjust to "getting the job done" regardless of pain, more than it was to keep you in shape. Things like dropping to low-crawl (on your ear, than is) through a stream in the middle of a 6-mile run, and getting to squat on one knee for hours while waiting for orders on a night march, or 3-5 second rushes for a half mile, or playing "dead" op-for and falling on a fire-ant mound and not moving for 15 minutes while getting bit because it provided more realism (yep -- that was me).

That stuff hurts, dude. And it hurt before I got back and knee problems (I'm your age, though I am overweight). When I think back to benning and doing fireman's carries up cardiac hill, then sprinting up it, then going up it doing leapfrog in the same 10 minutes...My God but that's not for old folks.

3) You deal with a lot of stupidity. My 1st Sergeant took me aside when I was about to exit the Army, and told me about his experience getting out and reenlisting because he couldn't cut it in the civilian sector. There were a couple of folks in my unit that did the exact same thing. The advantage of the military, for some folks, is job security: polish your boots, press your BDUs, show up on-time, do what you're told, and take mail-order courses (read: copy off your roommate's courses) and you've got a 20-30 year career with good benefits.

Even if you're completely incompetent -- in this case you get a degree of power you'd never see in the real world. Those of us with an understanding of the rules and a willingness to face the threatened level of punishment from a meat-head provided we got to tell our story could generally get an a-hole to back down. Most cowed and took whatever punishments were handed out.

Just some random thoughts. It might be the perfect opportunity for you. But then, it might not...

August 22, 2005, 06:57 PM
Go for it man or kick your self next year for not giving it a try.

August 22, 2005, 07:00 PM
Do it, Go Armor or Cav. (Ride, don't walk and M1 Abrams armor is a lot thicker then the issue "cotton armor" of DCU's, even with the vest.)

August 22, 2005, 07:05 PM
Yeah, do it quick. I think 34 is the cut off point for most branches of the service. I don't know how physically in shape you are, but the Army is probably no walk in the park. I joined the Navy when I was 17, and aside from sleep deprivation, it was a walk in the park(exagerrating a little). The physical aspect is not too bad, but you better be able to do 1.5miles in i think 14 minutes for your age bracket, and a decent number of sit ups and pushups. I hear they get 8 hours of sleep in boot camp now though.
I had two older fellows in my boot camp division. I think the oldest guy was around 33. They had no problems. You will have to realize you'll be taking orders from people much younger than you. By the time I was 19 I was an E-5. Just picture yourself taking orders from a snot nosed teenager.
That being said, its nice having a pay check every two weeks no matter what. Health benefits are excellent if you take advantage of them, so are the 100% tuition assistance while your on active duty. The G.I. Bill is the best and so is the $600 kicker.
The military(the Navy at least) is hell on marriage. Your single now but think about later. I've seen many divorces during my 6 years in the Navy. Our boat had what we called the Rickover divorce lawyer. His card got passed around quite a bit. Food for thought.

August 22, 2005, 07:08 PM
As someone who was a 11 Bravo from the ages18-21, I would say that I could never turn around and do it again at 30. The military is a young man's game. The stuff you have to put up with is ridiculous, both mentally and physically. A true adult cannot put up with people harrassing them constantly, atleast I couldn't anymore.

Also you are entering the prime earning years of your life, unless you are financially secure now you may never be unless you start working on it. Work for the goverment just not in uniform. Join the Foreign Service or CIA if you want to work for the goverment overseas, the military just isn't something for a grown man who has already had a real job.

August 22, 2005, 08:00 PM
I was infantry in the late 80's-early 90's, did Airborne school, etc. I got out for eight years, then re-enlisted in the Guard in 2002, staying with the infantry MOS. I pass my PT tests and such, but it's still A LOT harder, even in the Guard, at 30+ than it was at 19. I got tired after three years and jumped at an open armorer's slot.

I'll echo most of what Derek said, and also the comment about being outranked by someone ten years your junior. I do take issue with the people who say that infantry is the only way to serve. There are lots of military jobs that can be done better by a grown man with some life experience under his belt, than by a trigger yanker fresh out of high school.

There's nothing dishonorable about being in supply, personnel, food service, vehicle maintenance or one of the other MOS's that are less glamorous than combat arms, but just as necessary. They say it takes ten support people to field one combat arms soldier -- not everyone needs to be (or can be) an "operator" or a "light fighter," but that doesn't mean you can't make a contribution.

Do not enlist unless you want to see Iraq from the messy end. At the rate things are going, virtually everyone in the Army -- active, Reserve, and Guard -- will do at least a year or two in Iraq.

August 22, 2005, 08:11 PM
Thanks for the words, guys. I think you're right that I probably wouldn't take orders too well, and I get sore just sleeping on a floor anymore...

What about ROTC? Has anyone here been commissioned straight away and not had to deal with too much Sgt. Jackass?

As far as the Navy, well, it's funny but even though I'm a very good swimmer, the idea of being on a seafaring vessel kind of unnerves me. I guess it's just that I'm used to knowing I could swim to shore if I had to. Besides, I'm a big George Patton fan, it's Army or nothing. ;)

Byron Quick
August 22, 2005, 08:31 PM
What about ROTC? Has anyone here been commissioned straight away and not had to deal with too much Sgt. Jackass?

You're still going to put up with some of the same problems. Officers ten years your junior who outrank you, etc.

A large part of it is attitude. I had a good many run-ins with sergeants...and for good reason, as I was frequently an ass. I didn't see too much harassment for the sheer sake of harassment. Maybe I was taking the heat off the rest:D

If you do decide to go for a commission, please be sure that you are squared away as to attitude. Infractions that will result in at most an Article 15 for an enlisted man will get an officer court-martialed.

Personally, I would never seek a commission for the sole reason of avoiding the authority of sergeants. I forget his name but I once witnessed a captain, who was a company commander, get into a urination contest with the battalion sergeant major. The captain not only lost but just about every sergeant major in the Army was just waiting for him to get in range from then on.

Byron Quick
August 22, 2005, 08:36 PM
What about ROTC? Has anyone here been commissioned straight away and not had to deal with too much Sgt. Jackass?

You're still going to put up with some of the same problems. Officers ten years your junior who outrank you, etc.

A large part of it is attitude. I had a good many run-ins with sergeants...and for good reason, as I was frequently an ass. I didn't see too much harassment for the sheer sake of harassment. Maybe I was taking the heat off the rest:D

If you do decide to go for a commission, please be sure that you are squared away as to attitude. Infractions that will result in at most an Article 15 for an enlisted man will get an officer court-martialed.

Personally, I would never seek a commission for the sole reason of avoiding the authority of sergeants. I forget his name but I once witnessed a captain, who was a company commander, get into a urination contest with the battalion sergeant major. The captain not only lost but just about every sergeant major in the Army was just waiting for him to get in range from then on.

A big George Patton fan shouldn't have much of a problem with Sgt. Jackass.

Commissar Gribb
August 22, 2005, 09:04 PM

everything is geared down based on age.

Same pay and benefits but you (in most cases) will get a semi-normal job like pumping jet fuel, maintaining aircraft/equipment, and a bunch of other army type jobs like civil engineering, military police, transportation, communications etc. geared more away from combat.

If you do get deployed you'll most likely be doing the same job only with a different background.

In short, less BS, less PT, less "pain". ;)

Sure, the guy who fixes avionics systems on an F15 doesnt get a lot of glory but they're still important to the mission.

August 22, 2005, 09:14 PM

ROTC is a program you participate in while going through college, and when you graduate you get a commission as an O1 along with your degree. If you are not in college now, you aren't going ROTC.

I think you mean OCS. I have no idea what that's like now. When I enlisted, I still had to go through the same basic training and AIT as everyone else. After AIT would have been 6 months of more chicken **** at Fort Belvoir.

I say "would have" because, at the tender age of 22, I was already too old to put up with the games they like to play with trainees. What you must realize is that Army training, like Army tech manuals, is geared to the lowest common denominator. Training was aimed at controlling the thugs and jerk-offs who found their way into uniform. It was NOT geared toward college graduates whose entire previous generation (father and ALL living uncles) had served in WW2, most as officers, and who didn't want to waste time polishing barracks floors with a toothbrush when I could be out learning to blow things up (I was going to be a combat engineer, you see).

So I opeted out of OCS. Best move I ever made. As I moved around through several assignments and duty stations as an enlisted man, I encountered any number of OCS officers -- only one of whom did NOT deserve to be fragged, instantly if not sooner. ROTC officers were slightly better, but not much. West Pointers were generally okay as company grade, but somehow seemed to leave common sense behind once they made field grade.

Best officers I encountered, bar none, were "mustangers" (former enlisted who became officers) and warrant officers.

August 22, 2005, 09:16 PM
I was in the service for 8 years. I am 51 now and I would not have wanted to do it again at 35. It is a hard life without much respect. It is not as much glory as you think. At your age Bootcamp will be twice as hard on you then the kids. I was EOD and then a Medic. I was first drafted and then dumb enough to re-up.
Still it got me my nice Post Office job for the last 24 years.


Seven High
August 22, 2005, 09:35 PM
I read in a newspaper recently that the DoD wants to raise the age to enlist to 42. They are having problems getting people to enlist. Can you imagine putting in 20 years. :eek:

August 22, 2005, 09:49 PM
If service is your true motivation, have a look at the Texas State Guard ( You won't get paid but you will still be able to be in uniform, train, and help others.

August 22, 2005, 09:54 PM
[Martin Sheen voice] I did it at 22 and it dang near killed me...[/Martin Sheen voice]

Seriously, there were two recruits in my Basic platoon that were 34. One dropped 5 weeks in, the other was a guy who way one year short of a law degree, and joined to pay for that last year. He's probably a LTC in JAG now. He made it through Basic though, I gave him a lot of credit. Like me, the physical part of it was the hard part for him; we both laughed at the head games, him out of his 34 years of life experiences, me from living 22 years with a Dad who made Maj. Santini (The Great Santini ) look like a permissive father. ;)

August 22, 2005, 09:54 PM
There are other ways to serve your country. Maybe you'd rather serve your local community? I find that to be more personally rewarding, IMO, than the often frustrating life I witnessed in the military.

I'm not a veteran. I tried to go Air Force at 25, but health reasons prevented me from getting in. This is probably a good thing, because after two hours at Memphis MEPS, I had already decided I wasn't going to do well taking orders from a moronic loudmouth with a third grade education. I do NOT take orders well. I ended up working for the Air Force/Army as a contractor at Pope AFB/Ft Bragg, and got to see alot of the life from the outside. There is no glory in being an Air Force plumber, even if you're the best one. It would not have been for me. I think with a better attitude, it would have been healthy for me to do a 4 year stint when I was young (18-20) man, but not at 25 or later, when I had other opportunities.

If you went in at 34, you'd be in the minority for that rank, and surrounded by people of equal rank but far less experience and age than yourself.

There are still opportunities for more to be physically active and be a contributor. I couldn't handle being a cop, so I'd suggest volunteer fireman.

HTH, jmm

August 22, 2005, 09:56 PM
I went through basic training at age 27. It was doable but hard. If you want to serve I would say go for it. I am not sure I would recommend 11B but 19K worked for me.


lee n. field
August 22, 2005, 10:07 PM
Can be done.

My best friend in college, and best man at my wedding, had a big time falling out with his girlfriend at age 35 (the thing that finally convinced him was her calling the cops on him), decided he needed a change of life and went into the army.

He survived. They sent him to language school and taught him Russian (this was not long after the global monolithic communist menace finally started to crumble). After all that, they set him to fixing trucks.

He also fell in among Jesuits, but that's another story.

August 22, 2005, 10:10 PM
Middy. PM me.
I'm the 1st Sgt of an Army Spec Ops unit (Reserves) we drill in San Antonio so if you are close I can arrange for a visit and you can see what military life can do for you. I'll give you straight answers without all of the recruiter B.S.
Basic training is not a cake walk but you may find that the Drill Sgts will cut you a bit of slack BECAUSE of your age. Don't let some of the naysayers on the board talk you out of one of the GREATEST professions on the face of the earth. I have been in the military for the last 35 years and would not trade one minute of it.

August 22, 2005, 10:18 PM
I spent 13.5 yrs enlisted (2 Army and 11.5 USAF and ANG) and then was commissioned at 34. OCS wasn't bad, just another basic training type course. Now that I'm retired I'm glad I left as a Major but there were many times while in that I wished I had stayed an E-6. I had a lot more fun enlisted. I actually got to make more decisions and lead more as an NCO than as a Lt, even tho I had been an NCO. The officer ranks are very "class sensitive", more so than senior NCOs and enlisted.
Just because you might want to go to OCS (ROTC is in college as Hawkmoon described) it doesn't mean they'll take you in OCS. Just having a degree doesn't mean you'll be accepted. I commanded an NBC unit for 9 yrs. During that time I had in my unit enlisted people who were a doctor, lawyer, one with 2 MAs, 3 former teachers, and quite a few who had BA degrees. The doctor was in the NBC field because she wanted to do something other than medicine but she had a background in the biological side. The lawyer had been enlisted 173rd in VN but was too old for a commission and didn't want to JAG in the military. His background was heavy on the map plotting and chemical side. One of the teachers had taught high school physics so he understood the details of the nuke side.
To be a ground pounder, as others have said, is a young man's game. When I retired after 26.5 yrs there was no way I could do the things and for as long as I did when I first joined and was a young stud just out of high school and playing football. Knees were gone, back had been broken in 2 places, an elbow messed up, along with the other aches and pains of getting older. But at 34 there are still a lot of jobs in the military that don't require the 18 yr old conditioning. Pick a field (MOS in the Army, AFSC in the USAF, don't recall what USN and USMC call theirs) that is something you're trained in or interested in. At 34 you have to have done something with your life that would correspond with a military field and which the military could use. A lot of the young kids going in the military haven't done anything in their lives but go to high school or party on daddy's money in college. They have no job training, no discipline, and no responsibilities. At 34 you've been out of high school 16-17 yrs. You've had jobs, responsibilities, and would have disciplined yourself to take care of your needs, work with others, set and accomplish goals. Don't sweat basic. It's a mind game. As another has said the DIs aren't there to wash you out. They're there to mold you into a team, to push you to realize you can do more than you think you can. For an 18 yr old that's a major step in their life. You probably already know it so are ahead of the game.
The military isn't 100% all roses and ice cream tho. But no job is whether it's a civilian job or self employed. However, I wouldn't change anything with my career except to have stayed in longer. I've never wanted to be like so many others who, when they got older, say "I wish I would have done...." There's no reason for getting old and wishing for something that could have been but too timid to move for it. As the Nike ad says "Just Do It". You only get to come this way once. I got to do some interesting things, go to places I never would have seen, and play with toys most people only read about in magazines, and some toys you never read about.
Go talk to a recruiter now. You might find a field that is right up your alley and where you can give something to your country and fellowman. And 50 years from now as you're sitting around the old folks home you won't be one of those saying "I wish I would have done...."

August 22, 2005, 10:40 PM
A combat MOS is not the only way to serve and neither is going regular army.

I have regretted the day I got out since the day I got out
I tried to get back in at around the same age as you are now, the run around from a recruiter I found out later was a known slacker pissed me off and I ended up getting the knee operation I was putting off instead.

I'm trying to go back now but I can't even get the Natl Guard to call me back

And by the way my father went through Ranger school, jungle training and SF training at ages older than you are now

August 22, 2005, 10:52 PM
Son of a co-worker of mine is in Iraq at the moment with the Army Rangers. He went in at 33, I believe, wanting to do his bit. He was in pretty good shape, and really wanted to be in the special forces. Had to work hard, but is now on his second tour. It can be done.

August 22, 2005, 10:57 PM
Take cowboybob up on his offer before you make any decisions

Thanks to this thread I just e-mailed the Fla Air Guard.
They have Pest Control positions, imagine that.

August 23, 2005, 12:03 AM
I was thinking ROTC because I have an associates degree and I thought I might get some help finishing out the 3 semesters or so I would need for a BS.

My associates is in computer programming and systems analysis, and besides my programming experience I have about 4 years in tech support, so I imagine there are a lot of technical jobs I could handle, but do LTs do jobs like that? Would they want me to major in something else? Do they even consider someone who's way past "college age"?

August 23, 2005, 12:18 AM
It's not that I want glory, or that I want to "kick ass", it's more that I want to help our boys that are already over there. I want to be there when some kid needs to be driven to a surgical unit, or when the troops need moral support, or someone to keep a cool head when the SHTF. I don't want to kill anyone, but I do want to protect our men and all innocent civilians, and sometimes killing is the best way to do that.

I could probably best accomplish that in some other field than infantry at my age, though.

August 23, 2005, 12:28 AM
No one ever got something they wanted by looking it in the face and saying, "That looks too hard."

August 23, 2005, 05:43 AM
With a degree the Army wll start you out (during basic training) as an E-4 The Air Force may also do that but you'll have to ask a recruiter.
You will get a little more respect and a bit more money than the guys that are E-1's.
Since you are in N. Texas there are plenty of Nat'l Guard as well as Reserve units in your area. Check into the Air Guard, they have units in the Garland area and are looking for folks with your type of education.
Good luck and take it from one "old fart" You'll never regret your time in the servce, you will make friends that will last a lifetime, gain a new outlook on life and you just may surprise yourself as to what you can do in certain situations.

August 23, 2005, 09:14 AM
Retired after 27 years service in various MOSs and status and glad of it. At 50, I'm too old to be a good infantryman. At 40 I was at the top of my game and could outrun some Rangers. Frankly, it all comes down to WILL. Yours, not theirs. They have the strength of institutional will and they will what they will. You can or can't, it is ALL up to you.

BTW, one of my best junior NCOs was a fellow who had enlisted at age 34 years 11 months and 10 days. He graduated the Ranger course as a leg, Air Assault, and lots of other cool things. He's still in! So's his son, also a Ranger Grad (and Airborne). Talk about family pride.

Hell, why not?

August 23, 2005, 11:34 AM
i wanted to join corps engineers at 37 when the towers came down. the recuriter said i was too old. he was right. now all i get to do is f#&k younger chinese women.

each of us has to find his calling in life, and enjoy it. find yours.

August 23, 2005, 11:47 AM
I'm going to go talk to a recruiter soon. I can't let this last opportunity go by without at least trying.

Time to buy some running shoes and put up the chin-up bar.

August 24, 2005, 08:29 PM
Thanks to this thread I just e-mailed the Fla Air Guard.Rejected. Even the Air Guard don't need us 43 year old farts

August 25, 2005, 02:31 AM
I wasn't in long, bad ankle, but I did go through basic so I can tell you what it was like there. When I was there in late 1989 and early 1990 there were several guys in their late 20s and early 30s (I'm not certain anymore if the oldest guy was 34, 35 or 36, but I think he was 36). The older guys, especially those in their 30s, were very well respected. Sure, they couldn't always keep up physically, but we recognized they had a lot to offer, and we certainly respected what they were trying to do. The drill sergeants certainly gave them hell, often using their age as the "weapon" to use against them, but they gave everyone hell and tried to find something to use against them. Even the drill sergeants seemed to have a lot of respect for them and probably did treat them a tad better than the rest of us. The hardest part is there is a lot of stupid BS in basic, and at 19 I recognized that. At 34 it will be glaring, and having some 22-27 year old kids in your face and treating you like you were a total idiot for a couple months can get frustrating (the physical gets easier as it gets harder because you will get in much better shape quickly, the stupidity is always there, but usually somewhat entertaining at least). On the age of drill sergeants, most of my drill sergeants were older and more mature, many if not most being Vietnam vets, but many were in their mid-20s as well.

Now if you are out of shape I would advise against infantry especially, or any of the combat arms really. They are very physical, and unrelenting (many military jobs are nearly 9-5 type full-time jobs, the combat arms are no where near that and are really a way of life). If you want "action", EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) or MP (military police) would probably fit (there is action, but they aren't quite as physically demanding), and they would also probably appreciate the extra maturity that comes with age (both are pretty mentally demanding and require mature decision making). There are also plenty of desk jobs that contribute (if I would be to go back I'd probably go in as a mental health counselor- lots of PTSD and adjustment problems going on with many of the troops returning from Iraq). There are quite a few jobs to choose from:

As for some of the restrictions due to your age:
-No ROTC: The age limit to join Army ROTC is 26 and of course you have to be in a college program
-You are at the age limit to enlist in the Active Army. The age limit is 34, if you go reserves it is 39 (not sure about the National Guard)
-OCS (Officer Candidate School): I'm not sure on this one. According to the Army's recruitment website ( the limit is still 29 (you must get your commission by your 30th birthday). However I've been reading that the Army has, or is about to, raise the age to 42. You may want to ask a recruiter about this. You will need a BA or BS degree first however (Reserves and/or National Guard commissions are possible I believe at 60 credits if you are in a degree program for your BS/BA and will finish in a certain time frame).
-OCS at the state level: Many states' National Guards have state level OCS in addition to officers training in the Army's OCS. Those states that have their own OCS (most do) sometimes have different age limits so you may be able to go through OCS this way.
-You may wish to wait until you are done with school. If you plan on grad school for something like psychology, if you plan to become clergy, or if you plan on medical or law school, there are different commissioning programs for these kind of jobs and they have different age requirements. At least one of the commissioning routes for psychology allows a max. age of 43 and I'm not even sure if there is an age limit for chaplains anymore (I can't find a maximum age online anywhere), last time I saw one (years ago) it was 40-something.
-Keep in mind that the Army has the most liberal age restrictions, so going to the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, or Marines if you are too old for what you want won't work (they generally have lower age restrictions).
-Most age restrictions are waivable, so if your recruiter says you are too old for the program you want, ask for him/her to pursue a waiver. If your recruiter won't go through the work, go to another recruiting office and get another opinion before you give up.

If you enlist with an Associates degree you will go in as an E-3 (Private First Class) instead of as an E-1 (Private). With 30 credits you go in as E-2 (Private), at 60 you go in as an E-2 (Private), at 60 you go in as an E-3, and with a BA/BS degree you can enlist as an E-4 (Specialist). In each case this gives you a little more money, a tad more respect, and a slight leg up on someone coming in as an E-1 (it can take 1 1/2-5 years to make E-4, typically 2-3).

You will probably want to quit smoking now. Your lung power will increase, and tobacco products are banned during Basic Training anyway (trust me, Basic Training is not a good time for niccotine withdrawal).

Losing weight is a good idea. At least, do some working out so you are used to doing the pushups, situps and running. You don't need to be in perfect condition, basic will shape you up, and if you are in too bad shape there is the fitness training company (FTC) if they need to put you there (I assume they still have them, though the FTC is not someplace you want to be).

Look into things carefully, but I would strongly encourage going in if you think you might want to. At 34 you are old enough to realize that a couple years really isn't a long time. Take a 2 or 3 year enlistment if you really aren't sure if you'd like it. Even 4 years goes by pretty quickly. Then, there is always the Reserves if the money (it doesn't pay well) or the time committment keeps you away from the Active Army, just keep in mind that you can/will be called up and the enlistments tend to be longer, 3-6 years and most are 6 years. The Reserves/National Guard drill once a month (2 1/2 days, usually Friday night through Sunday evening) then 2 weeks usually in the summer when not called to active duty so most of the time it isn't quite as much of a committment (you can still have your normal life most of the time). With the Reserves/Guard these days you may spend more active duty time than someone on a 2 or even 3 year Active Duty contract, but the time will be more spread out so you will be at home more, and your unit will be based at home when not deployed (i.e. unlike Active Duty, you won't be constantly moving).

Miscellaneous links: (recruiting) (Army fitness standards) (Weight tables- be sure you aren't over the maximum weight limit) (PDF chart with military base pay rates, housing allowance, food allowance, reserve pay, family separation allowances, and other pay catagories)

August 25, 2005, 08:23 AM
Just commenting on something chaim said;

Now if you are out of shape I would advise against infantry especially, or any of the combat arms really.

In the sandbox, there is no such thing as a REMF. Just ask Jessica Lynch. In this type of warfare, every American over there, and all of us here, too, are targets. It would behoove you to get in the best shape you can before Basic; the physical will be the hard part at your age. You're old enough to find the mental games amusing, albeit frustrating also. Concentrate on their comedic value, and memorize these phrases: 'It don't mean a thing.' and 'FIDO: [Insert expletive here] it, drive on!' They will get you through Basic, and your military career. ;)

August 25, 2005, 10:11 AM
Awesome post Chaim, thanks.

I think I'll be able to get in shape almost as well as the younger folks, I've never had any major problems with my health or any major injuries that bother me, and I don't have much blubber to work off.

I really think I need this. I've taken life for granted for too long, been coasting for too many years. Banging out code at a desk certainly pays better, but it's not what I want to do for the rest of my life. The Army needs good, smart people who have a grasp of the ideals of Liberty. I hope I'm not the only one here who's considering this move. ;)

August 25, 2005, 10:37 AM
At 34, you're reaching the point where you're too old to hump a ruck and do all the other tasks of a grunt unless you're already in near olympic athlete condition. You don't heal from injury as fast nor do you recover from physical activity as quickly or completely as a younger person would.
I went at 19 and got out at 27. I went through the DPS Academy at 30 and wondered sometimes what I was doing there. I can't imagine having to go through BT again at 42. Although I think the mental part for me would be a cakewalk now, my knees are no longer able to take the pounding that running PT everyday, road marches with overloaded rucks and obstacle courses would inflict on them.
If you must look at the military at your age, check out the Air Farce or Coast Guard.

August 25, 2005, 11:24 AM
My dad quit smoking and started jogging when he was 30. At my age he ran his first marathon.

If you enjoyed reading about "Army at 34?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!