Skip to comments.At 41, off to basic training
Posted on 04/11/2006 6:30:41 PM PDT by wjersey
Jerry Giordano was turned down when he tried to join the Army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He was 36 then. The limit for military recruits was 35.
Now the resident of Vineland, Cumberland County (NJ), is 41, and the Army has decided to welcome him into the ranks.
The age limit was raised to 42 in January to bolster recruitment, and that - plus the help of a congressman and an Army age waiver - cleared the way for him to leave April 20 for basic training.
"I feel like I did when I was a kid," said Giordano, a supervisor at the Limpert Bros. factory in Vineland, which makes ice cream toppings.
"When you're a teen, you look forward to driving a car, being able to drink, graduating from school. When you get to my age, there's nothing to look forward to."
Yesterday, Giordano said he was planning a new life as an Army medic.
Entering the military at 41 is rare. Although this year's National Defense Authorization Act authorizes the services to accept active-duty recruits as old as 42, the Army usually cuts off recruiting at 40 - but sometimes makes exceptions to fill medical positions, said Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky.
"There has been an effort to broaden the pool of potential enlistees," Smith said yesterday. Older "people are in better shape these days, so the age limit was increased. It took legislation to make the change for the active Army."
The Army's waiver for Giordano apparently took into account his motivation and desire for medical training, Smith said.
No statistics were available on how many enlistees older than 40 the Army has accepted since the age increase.
Steven Silver, 61, director of the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center's post-traumatic stress disorder center, also is seeking to enter the military.
Silver, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam who lives in Coatesville, said he hoped to fill a psychologist's position in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and serve in Iraq.
He said yesterday that he expected to find out by June whether the Army had granted him an age waiver.
But Giordano's long wait is over. He said he was finally doing what he had set out to do when he was 18.
"I took the test then to be a Marine, but my family didn't want me to go in," said Giordano, who is married and has children. "I was an only child."
Entering the military is "fulfilling a lifetime dream," he added. "It's an adventure. I feel like a kid again. When 9/11 happened, that gave me the incentive to do something. I wanted to be involved."
Giordano said he had continued trying to get into the military even after being turned down the first time.
When the Army raised the age limit for reservists to 40 in March 2005, he thought he had another chance. Maybe he could get in under the wire while the service was trying boost sagging recruitment.
Giordano was turned down again and "felt hurt" and frustrated.
When the age limit was raised two more years, Giordano applied for active duty. He was accepted, he said, after U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.) intervened with the Army. LoBiondo was visiting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday and unavailable for comment.
"It's been an uphill climb," Giordano said, "but I've been extremely motivated."
After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he will learn to become a medic at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
"They need medics all over the place," Giordano said. "I don't know where I would be deployed, but I'd like to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. I want to help. I want to do something."
and to think during WW2 and especially after Pearl Harbor we had millions of men with that attitude.
Yep, good for him. My husband got in on an age waiver at 37 and is due to "retire" with 21 years in July. He's in better shape than a lot of guys in their 20s.
Damn straight!! I'm 41 and wish I could sign up.
To the miscellaneous ping list. :)
Awesome! I better go buy some Tylenol/Motrin/Advil stock! :)
My hat is off to this fine American. God Speed!
I tried to enlist after 9/11. They laughed at me.
I was 39.
God Bless him. And I thank him.
I wonder what the penalty would be for someone who was able to enlist in the armed forces beyond the current age limit via a falsified birth cert and ultimately got caught?
Godspeed Private Giordano
Yes, good for him. But I'm not sure I'd want to go through basic training at that age, crawling under barbed wire in the cold mud or sleeping in a barracks where the butt cans freeze every night and you only have one blanket.
Maybe things are different now? That was Fort Dix in the old days.
Good for you. :)
I took basic at Ft. Polk during Viet Nam. On K.P. one g-d-forsaken morning at about 0300 the head cook had us spray the plate and bowl stack with some (I'm sure) now-banned insecticide. The cockroaches fell out like rain. That was the REAL Army!
God bless him.
One thing is probably very different. The water doesn't freeze in the butt cans anymore, because the barracks has no doubt been turned into a smoke free zone.
This is such a cool story -- thanks for the post. I hope Basic goes well for this trooper.