For a year now, the military has boasted about its equal opportunity for all races, religions, genders, and even ages. I beg to differ. The military not only has age minimums and maximums for entering the military, it also has age minimums and maximums for certain occupations in the military such as Special Forces. I knew a soldier who recently passed the Army Special Forces selection course and was told he was one of the best they ever had attend the course. However, he was not selected because he was 38 years old. He was told that the Army would rather spend the money on a younger soldier than on one his age. This is exactly what the Army should not do. Why discredit a soldier solely for his age when he outperformed his peers? I know the Navy SEAL program and the Air Force Special Operations program do the same. I question this, because the justification falls apart if the individual can meet or exceed the standard. I do agree with the need for a minimum age requirement, but the current age cutoffs are too low.
The minimum age requirement for all military branches is 17 with parental consent or 18 without parental consent. The maximum age for the Air Force is 39. The maximum age to enlist in the Army with no prior service is 35; for the Navy, it’s 34, the Coast Guard 32, and the Marines 28. The Reserves and National Guard have different age maximums and are based on any prior service, and new recruits have the opportunity to get an age waiver up to the age of 42.
These age requirements are somewhat ridiculous. For the Marine Corps, where does this cutoff of 28 come from? Are they trying to say they only want people right out of high school or college? It is very possible for individuals to graduate from college, get a job, and then decide they want to fight for our country but have reached the tender age of 29. If they only want to serve in the Marine Corps, then they will probably pass on military service because they are deemed too old to serve. It’s tragic to possibly lose a great Marine right from the start due to their age. What if they pass the ASVAB? Is this truly equal opportunity? The maximum age requirements are ridiculous. They do not currently represent individuals who are incapable of serving well in the military.
Why These Ages?
What is the argument for these maximum age requirements? When you look at professional athletes, for example, there is no age cutoff to play in the NBA, NFL, or MLB. These are proven athletes who stand out as being better than the rest and go on to make millions of dollars. Years ago, there was a movie about a major-league pitcher that began playing in the MLB as a relief pitcher at the age of 40 and went on to play for 4 years. The team and MLB did not sign him out of pity. They decided to let him play based on his ability to perform at a high standard! Isn’t this what the military should do? Was there an age limit when we gained our freedom in 1776? I don’t think so. Age restrictions would be easier to accept if there truly was a legit reason and proof for how they were decided. And when that happens, there should be a uniform cutoff, instead of the variance in each branch.