39 years old? It's not too late to enlist

  • Published
  • By Stephen Losey
Individuals in their late thirties can now enlist in the Air Force Reserve.

The Air Force is 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.

"This is great for the 916th Air Refueling Wing; we can now choose from a larger pool of candidates and be more selective," said Master Sgt. Clayton Callahan, 916th ARW recruiter. "Older candidates, who may have more education and experience, now have the opportunity to join our team."

This change is part of force-wide initiative, affecting recruiting for the Reserve and active-duty, added Callahan.

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.

Those interested in joining the 916th ARW are welcome to contact a recruiter here.

916th ARW recruiting: 919-722-2258

*This article was edited and localized by Staff Sgt. Alan Abernethy, 916th ARW public affairs