When most people decide to join the military, it’s usually right after high school. They don’t seriously consider joining active duty military at 27 years of age.
As someone who arrived at basic military training 26 days before his 28th birthday, I know all too well that there are reasons for joining ten years later than most.
When I was 17, I visited U.S. Army and Air Force recruiters. Quickly, I decided on the Air Force, as my grandfather, stepfather and cousin had done before me, with my parents’ blessing.
I proceeded to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and scored well enough to impress the recruiter. All that was left was signing my name and swearing in.
I had a moment of doubt that made me question whether or not I was ready. “Why was I joining? What have I done with my life up to this point? What are my other options? Am I ready for this commitment?” I asked myself these questions over and over.
The doubt was too much to ignore so I called the disappointed recruiter to tell him that I had changed my mind.
As each year passed, I wondered, “What if I had joined?” and “Is now the time?”
Over the next 10 years, I married the love of my life and had a healthy baby boy. I had been working the same job for eight years with no chance of advancement and my options in the job market without a degree seemed bleak.
At 27-years old, I had to wonder if it was too late.
I contacted the local recruiter and the first question I asked him about was the age limit for joining active duty. Upon hearing that I only had four months left on the clock, I knew I had a decision to make. It was now or never.
I chose now.
Now 11 months into my military career, I am a 28-year-old airman first class, making me as much as 10 years older than my peers. This will remain a fact for the rest of my military career.
In my opinion, age does not define a person, rank or position because all of us committed to serve our country. We were all taught the same core values and are held to the same standards.
The extra years of personal life experience should be an advantage for me because I feel like I may be better prepared to handle many different situations.