Q & A With L. Reynolds

L. Reynolds wrote back with some questions for yours truly. He agreed to let me post our conversation. I’m hoping it might help some of you reading (who don’t comment or ask questions of me) who might have similar questiosn of your own.

My main concerns are that 1) I’m almost 37 years old and 2) that although I’ve done wireless work on various levels for about 15 years, I don’t know anything about computer networking. I’m assuming I’d get trained in that stuff.

But I’m a wireless nut with a BS in physics. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to contribute if I have anything to offer. I have no military experience.

Do you think I have anything to offer? I value your opinion, but I need you to shoot straight with me.

The current cut-off age for enlsitment is 39. You can enlist right up to your 39th birthday. Joining being the day you go to the MEPS (Military Enlistment Processing Center) and sign your name on the enlistment contract.

The Army does not expect anyone to come to them fully trained. That you have a background in technical matters indicates an aptitude and interest level that should help you succeed. For me it was about finding something different (my degree is in History) than I’d been doing. Both strategies are sound.

Everyone has something they can contribute. The only question is can they meet the standards in order to contribute this way.

Some things that you, or anyone considering this, must think about are physical condition and commitment. Commitment can be variable. I wasn’t willing to commit to active-duty, full-time enlistment as I had other obligations and goals to persue and I wanted the local communities ties and duties. The National Guard was a natural fit for me. The Reserves have been called up for disaster relief occassionally, but that is not their mission. If your desire leans more toward a focus, the Army Reserve might be best for you. You’d expressed your interest in the Reserves in particular so is seems you’ve been considering this question.

Physical condition can be a show-stopper. I am 36. I’ve also been in the Army for 11 years now. It’s a lifestyle I’ve integrated in order to to do this. You are one year older and I don’t know what your condition is. If you have some weight, or physical limitations, you will be highly challenged. Maybe you’ve been an athlete your whole life and maybe not. Anyhow, here’s some food for thought. An Army recruit must score at least 50% on all three categories of the Army Physical Fitness Test (PT Test). At 37 years old this means you must be able, at the end of 9 weeks of training, to do 22 sit-ups in 2 minutes, 24 push-ups in 2 minutes and run 2 miles in under 19:30. To start Basic you must be able to do 13 correct push-ups. To graduate from Advanced Individual Training (AIT) you must score at least 60 in each category. That’s 38 sit-ups, 34 push-ups and 18:18 2 miles.

I do not tell you this to persuade you to pre-judge your condition or abilities. You can let the doctors at MEPS and your Drill Sergeants do that for you, but it is something you must prepare for and you will make your life far easier to start working on these issues now if they might remotely be a challenge. I recommend, if you don’t already, you start running now, even if you don’t think you need to and even if you don’t decide to join. It’s just good for you.

Something to know about AIT; you will not come out of AIT being fully trained and proficient in your chosen specialty. Training in the Army is an ongoing process. The schoolhouse only has so much time and they can’t possibly trian you on all the possibilities of unit types and equipment available. They will teach you the basics and your gaining unit must teach you what they do. I know that I was surprised and a littel disappointed by this until I found out how it actually worked.

I hope this has been helpful and I hope it elicits more questions. If so on either account please write back. I live for helping troops, even prospective troops.

You may find http://www.apft.net helfpul. There are a collection of Signal Corps links in the sidebar of my blog as well that may guide you to helpful info as far as MOS. (It sounds like 25U, 25B or 25F might be the ones that would most likely interest you.)

Here to Help!

Anyone else have questions? Thinking about joining? Answers I don’t have, I can (and will) find.

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