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30-something? It's not too late to enlist

Jun. 26, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Master Sgt. Thad Smith, an Air Force recruiter, observes the practice recital of the Oath of Enlistment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on May 10. (Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr. / Air Force)
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Even 30-somethings are now able to enlist in the Air Force.

The Air Force Recruiting Service announced June 24 that it has raised the active-duty enlisted accessions age limit — from 27 to 39 — for all enlisted career fields.

The Air Force Reserve is also raising its age limit for enlistees without prior military service to 39, Air Force Reserve Recruiting Service spokesman Master Sgt. Shawn Jones said. The reserve’s limit previously was 34.

Air Education and Training Command spokeswoman Amy Bartholomew said that the Air Force wanted to standardize its age requirements and bring them in line with those for the Air National Guard, which already had an age limit of 39.

“If you’re an individual, if you’re going to different recruiters, I imagine [the different age requirements] would be confusing,” Bartholomew said. “The policy change was part of an effort to align enlistment standards.”

The Air Force Recruiting Service said on its Facebook page that the age change will not mean the service will enlist more new airmen.

“We are broadening our demographics so we can be more selective with our applicants to ensure we are taking in highly qualified members,” said the Facebook page’s moderator, identified as Carissa.

The announcement drew many comments on the recruiting Facebook page from people in their late 30s who are interested in joining.

Carissa said on the Facebook page that enlistees must have begun basic military training before they turn 40 to remain eligible. But that can take up to a year, she said — two to three months to process a qualified applicant, and then another three to nine months to begin basic.

And an enlistee who joins at 39 would still be able to serve for 20 years and retire with a full pension, Carissa said.

Defense regulations allow the services to place the maximum enlistment age as high as 42, Bartholomew said. The Army caps its enlisted recruits at age 35, and the Navy will not allow anyone older than 34 to enlist. The Marine Corps will not accept new enlistees who are older than 28.

The Air Force is not changing its requirements for new officers, who must be commissioned before their 35th birthday.

The minimum age for enlistment continues to be 17, as long as enlistees have their parents’ consent.

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