Congressman submits "age waiver" bill for active duty members

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Luigi59, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Age waiver for military academies

    BY JENN ROWELL
    GANNETT.COM
    JUNE 18, 2010

    Kevin Rourke wanted to go to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after high school, but instead decided it would be better to get combat experience with the Army early in his military career.

    Now, it's going to take the passage of a new age waiver provision in national legislation before he can take that next step.

    The Special Forces soldier from California became a Green Beret at 20 and went to Afghanistan. He returned to the U.S. as a staff sergeant and was ready to go to West Point, but Rourke missed the cutoff to apply. Applicants can be no older than 23 by July 1 of the year of admission to the nation's military academies. He is 23 now. Because the application process takes time, Rourke would have had to start the process while he was deployed.

    Rourke, who currently is an instructor at Fort Rucker, called West Point to ask about an age waiver and was told no waiver had ever been successfully granted. He tried to apply anyway, but no legal process for an age waiver to the academies currently exists.

    So he took his effort to U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright's office. In May, Bright's office added a provision to the House of Representative's version of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the military academies -- West Point, the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy -- to grant age waivers.

    The law would allow age waivers to applicants with exceptional records or military experience who would be 26 or younger in July of the year they would enter the academy. The provision also states that no more than five members of the military can be on an age waiver at each of the academies at any time.

    The 2011 National Defense Authorization Act is also the legislation that includes military funding and raises for military members.

    The bill has passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate. Bright voted against the bill because of a provision to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

    The age waiver provision expires in 2015 under the version of the bill passed by the House. Staffers in Bright's office said the expiration date was included to allow the academies to test the age waiver provision and determine if it works and whether to extend it.

    The age waiver would allow more experienced military members to attend the academies and for the schools to produce more qualified officers, Rourke said.

    Rourke said other commissioning programs -- ROTC and officer training or candidate programs -- have higher age limits.

    The Air Force Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base requires that trainees finish the program and be commissioned by 35. The Air Force ROTC program requires that cadets be commissioned by 35, with a waiver. Nurses can get age waivers up to 42.

    The Army Officer Candidate School requires that candidates be commissioned by 42.

    The Army ROTC program has different age limits based on traditional programs or those for enlisted soldiers. For cadets on scholarships, they must be younger than 31 on Dec. 31 of the year they commission, according to the Army's Cadet Command, which oversees the Army ROTC programs. For non-scholarship cadets, they have to be 35 or younger on the day they're commissioned. There are some age waivers available for older soldiers.

    "We're getting combat veterans as officers now because people enlist, go to war and then come back to school," Rourke said. "Academies don't have that. The age limit is so low, the primary source is right out of high school. So they get high school kids, commission them and send them into combat with no experience. They're leading men who have been to combat."

    :cool:
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I'm sure that sentence made some people mad. And what about the other two? Waivers for them or not?

    It's poorly written at the end, as she makes it sound to the layman as though ROTC does not receive the majority of folks right out of high school, which they most certainly do.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2010
  3. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    They are not funded through this bill, they have different funding sources.

    USCGA would probably change as well, but it wouldn't happen through this bill.

    USMMA's age requirement is already 25.
     
  4. rkrosnar

    rkrosnar Member

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    Congressman submits....

    I hope he gets it, he deserves it.


    RGK
     
  5. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Devil's advocate here:

    He had FIVE (5) years in which to apply. He was not deployed for 5 years. Also plenty of other deployed soldiers managed to apply while they were deployed. Being deployed does not prevent one from applying.

    The age limit for academies should be different. While some older soldiers may want an academy education they often find it far more restricting than the younger cadets.
    This soldier won't graduate until he is 27. While his peer group is getting on with their lives in their 20's socially his will be on hold. Yes, he can date at West Point but it will be difficult. The mid-20's is a time when most young people are setting up their grown-up lives - they have a house/apt; looking for a mate, thinking about starting a family.
    An older college student can do all this while in ROTC - but a Cadet cannot.

    Could this soldier be an exception? Possibly, but there has to be a cut off somewhere.
     
  6. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Ok, I have to take up for my SOF brother here with a bit of reality.

    Since he's an 18-series, he likely spent about two years in the SF Qualification Course, plus SFAS and any follow-on schools, which would necessarily include airborne and most likely at least one SOF school. All told, between basic, AIT, SFAS, and the Q course plus schools, this guy's spent about 3 years in training. Then you have to add in his time in a Group. A soldier cannot apply without command support, and a commander will usually not support a soldier to do something like that until he has spent a certain amount of time in the unit, doing his job, and has established a relationship with his command and a reputation for good work. Since SF is so short on people, we rarely see anyone leave the branch like this guy wants to. Many commanders won't even support a flight packet.

    In this guy's case, those two years probably included at least one JCET and two deployments. He gets a pass in my book. I have no trouble believing that this is his first real shot to apply.
     
  7. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    The bill provision sounds reasonable to me. Case by case basis would allow a few highly deserving men and women who chose to go the enlisted route first to become officers and lead the people that they have come to understand. Prior enlisted have such important contributions to make as officers; soldiers slightly past the age limit should at least be allowed to be considered for admission.
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    While I disagree a lot with JAM on many subjects, she makes some excellent points. And I for one am in the camp that wouldn't want to see the age limit changed, or any exceptions made to the age limit of the academies.

    Part of the academy training revolves around the immaturity of 18 year olds. This is not a slam. Every person goes through a growing/maturing process. Especially when for many at the academy, this is the first time they've truly left home and been on their own. The fact that the academy is 90% ran BY cadets, FOR cadets demonstrates that. 22 year olds training and in charge of 18 year olds. Yes, there are some that are a few years older, and I think the existing age limits are quite fair.

    In no way is the individual in question being held back from becoming a commissioned officer. They are free to go to ROTC or to go to college on their own and do OTS, or even to go the old "Bootstrap" program, now called Air Force Educational Leave of Absence Program. They can finish their college degree and apply for a commission. The academy isn't the only method, and the requirements for age shouldn't be changed.

    One of the most difficult individuals I had working for me was a SSgt who was in charge of about 5 airmen. She, the SSgt, didn't join the military until much later in life. While the army allows enlisted to join up at age 42, the Air Force is 27. She was 26. Now many people probably don't see any problems. However, for her it apparently was an issue. When she was an E1-E3, she normally would be living in the dormitory had she been the traditional 18-20 year old. She'd be maturing side by side with other military airman. She'd do all the "Stupid" things that young people "ARE SUPPOSE TO DO". And she'd ***** about he supervisors, NCO, and officers in the dorm with her friends. This is NORMAL. But at 26, she was already married. After tech school, she had an apartment with her husband. The people who were her age and normally would have been her peer, were SSgt and TSgt; and they weren't going to hang out with an A1C. So she never got to know what it was like to be a "Real Airman". Unfortunately, when she started supervising these E1-E4, she couldn't deal with their NORMAL GROWING UP. Some of the whining about work; getting in minor trouble; sometimes being stupid; etc... She was convinced that they were trouble makers, insubordinate, and wrote more LOC (Letters of Counseling), than I could count.

    I am not saying that all older students will be this way. Nor would all older cadets at the academy be that way. But 5-6 years is plenty of time from when an individual graduates high-school, to determine if they want to apply to the academy. Currently, the oldest cadet would be 27 years old. But if you raise the age say 3 years, then in theory, you'll have a 21 year old C1C ordering around the 29 year old C2C. And as much as that 25-26 year old entering BCT wants to be bond with the other cadets in his flight/squadron, how much in common does a 26 year old really have with a 17-18 year old. Especially if they are prior enlisted?

    If there weren't any other options for becoming commissioned, I could see changing the age. But there's 2 other ways for most people, and a 3 for active duty enlisted who want to finish their degree and receive a commission. The academy is not a right. And there are so many applicants; +/- 10,000; that the academy isn't the place for a 26+/- year old prior enlisted. The curriculum, environment, academics, etc... of the academy is structured for a younger class. Growing up, maturing, learning to be responsible, etc... is all part of the cadet training. A 25-26 year old, especially prior enlisted, is sort of past this phase of their life. The training becomes less effective, and it will effect his/her classmates.
     
  9. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    Interesting point, ChristCorp.
     
  10. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    While I agree with this:

    I see no real value in this:


    While I think ScoutPilot has adequately addressed JAM's points in regard to this one individual, her concerns would hopefully be reviewed and considered when an applicant submitted a request for a waiver.

    Heck, I'm one of those people who sometimes wonders if the Academies should radically increase the number of slots they have for prior-enlisted personnel. We should be doing all we can to retain talent, and all too often people underestimate the talent that exists in the modern enlisted ranks.
     
  11. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    That's a good point.

    I would counter, however....... SHOULD it be that way? :confused:

    I look back and wonder if much of what I was "taught" was really worth it. The flip side, of course, is that I've been out of USNA the same number of years as I had been alive when I entered it, so my perspective may be skewed.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I agree that it should remain the same age as it is currently.

    Here's my devil's advocate point...if you want to be an officer there are other routes to go than an SA. If attending only an SA to become an officer is your make or break, than I think they already broke the cardinal rule...SERVICE BEFORE SELF and not worth retaining.

    Also, this can become a slippery slope....should we allow cadets the ability to have dependents...for example, they have a child out of wedlock, should we allow them health benefits for the child?

    How about UPT? Do we now change that age limit? The AFA typically has 50+% that get UPT slots, but like the SA's there too is an age limit which lines up with the oldest grads from the AFA, should they move the age limit, or should they immediately tell candidates that are over 23 you have no chance of UPT if you go to the AFA?

    Again it is a slippery slope, I am betting that the Navy has age limits also for UPT or SEALS, and the Army has it too for Helo's and Rangers...do they all move their age limits for these careers just for SA purposes?

    Sorry, but he could get commissioned in other ways...hate to say it, but the lesson to be learned here is keep on top of your career goals.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2010
  13. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    Of course, the question may become, "Can I get a waiver for 27?" :thumb:
     
  14. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Exactly!

    It will turn from engraved in stone to penciled in on loose leaf paper or even better yet...on a matchbook cover!:shake:
     
  15. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Problem is here; if I'm not mistaken, most times the academy doesn't fill all the prior enlisted slots it has now. So it's really a moot point.

    Refencing my comment of: Part of the academy training revolves around the immaturity of 18 year olds.

    Most definitely it SHOULD be that way. We can try and live in a "Perfect" world where every teen is respectful, every high school graduate is mature, and that all the mistakes, we as adults have made, we've been able to teach our children from, and that they've learned from our mistakes. Unfortunately, that is not the real world. ALL teens, meaning going into their 20's, has to go through a growing experience. This is part of nature. You can't get around it. And the academy's training MUST TAKE THIS INTO CONSIDERATION. You can't just tell this 18 year old: "Grow up, be a man". Sorry, but that's not how you grow up. Part of this maturing is that for most of these cadets, this is the first time they are truly on their own. In a civilian college, they still have mommy and daddy. They can go home every weekend and call every night. The military, whether it's the academy or enlisted basic training and technical school, has to take on part of the responsibility of helping young people "Grow up". The young people ARE going to go through this growing process. There is no stopping or changing that. The academy, just like enlisted BCT and tech schools, takes this into consideration in their training methods.

    Anyway, that's why I have a problem with a 29-30 year old graduating from the academy. That 26 year old doesn't need the same type training that an 18-22 year olf needs. If they want a commission, let them go to ROTC, OTS, or Bootstrap.
     
  16. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Well, it's actually not a slippery slope. What you've presented is actually more of a Non Causa Pro Causa fallacy. But that's an argument of philosophy and not of the issue at hand, so I'll refrain from digressing.

    I definitely take issue with your claim that if someone only wanted to serve via a SA, they aren't worth retaining. There are a lot of fantastic officers who have sacrificed much, including life and limb, who did not apply to any other commissioning source and would not have done ROTC. Those fine men (and woman, in the case of those I know) were absolutely worth retaining, and their service in combat at the expense of their own lives is a testament to that fact.
     
  17. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    You read into my post the wrong way. My point was and is..if the only way you would serve is an SA commissioning than you are not worth retaining. There is a difference. Ring knocker does not mean you will not valiantly serve your commitment, but you have to ask why they only want to be a ring knocker? If your main thrust is to serve the military as an officer, do you give a rats behind your commissioning source?

    Additionally, I have to say that I believe 99% of candidates on this forum do the plan B option...ROTC.

    The problem with internet forums is that it is not face to face. In your quote of would not have done ROTC you seem to imply that it is SHAMEFUL/DEGRADING or INFERIOR to be commissioned that way. I truly don't believe that was your intention, but the way it was written it was biting in attitude to those who received their commissions from other sources. That statement of would not have done ROTC felt a tad condescending, in other words, if they didn't get WP, like you, than they would never dream of lowering themselves to a ROTC or OCS commissioning. So let's go back to your point of why the military should retain them? Did they put the service before themselves when they would not have done ROTC? Want to serve then there is no way you can defend not taking another commissioning source. SERVICE BEFORE SELF
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2010
  18. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    scout, that's a slippery slope to base a philosophy on. What I mean is: There's not one current officer or enlisted person that knew EXACTLY what they were getting into prior to actually being in the military. 1300+ enter the air force academy, and by the time BCT is over, as many as 85 have said "SCREW THIS" and they've quite. 90+% walk into the academy saying they want to fly. Yet, only around 50% actually pursue such a career. Not because of slots; most times the academy doesn't fill all their available slots. But a lot changes in 4 years. Some realize that they don't want to do 10 years in the air force, and therefor pilot is out. Some go in gung-ho, and decide to leave after their 5 year commitment.

    The idea of "I only want the academy or nothing" is naive. These individuals have no idea what the true difference is with the academy and other commissioning programs; let alone the real air force. Whether an office is retained in the academy, rotc, or once on active duty, is totally up to them and their performance. They are in complete control of their destiny.

    I think a candidate's first priority to be to serve. Then, the branch of service. If their priority is to "Fly Jets" or "Get an education", then I have a problem with these folks. Can their attitude change once admitted into the academy or ROTC? Yes. But I'd rather see the proper motivation from the start. With approximately 10,000 initial applicants, and approximately 6,000 qualified applicants applying to the academy, I'd like to see the ALO's/MALO/BGO/ etc... do an unofficial analysis of the applicants during their interview. Determine if they have other jobs in mind in case their "Dream" job isn't available. See if the emphasize the education over the military service. Let the ALO/MALO/etc... code their application as not "Service before self". Not a complete blackball, but that should be a priority. Flying planes and a free education should not be a person's priority for going to the academy. Of course, over time, the applicants will learn to play the game and give the answers the ALO/MALO is looking for. But I trust the ALO/MALO/BGO to be able to read between the lines.
     
  19. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    First off, no, I didn't imply anything. If you haven't figured it out yet, I says what I mean and I mean what I says. Implying is for wimps.

    I said they would not have done ROTC because they, being my friends, had discussed it with me over the years and none of us had any plans to be in the military period. We went to WP because we were offered the chance to open a file through either academic or athletic performance in high school. We did not spend our high school years pining to be academy grads, or do ROTC, or enlist. It all fell into place at the end and there we were. Had we not been admitted to the Academy, few if any of us from the group I am discussing would have pursued the military at all (and you would be surprised how many in a class are like that). Most of us saw it as our country saying "we'll give you a great education, but you're going to do some heavy lifting for us on the back-side." To me and many others, that seemed like a fair and honorable trade.

    You seem to have a chip on your shoulder about the ROTC vs. Academy dynamic, but that wasn't the point of the post at all. My point was that you were off base when you said that someone who only wanted to go through the academy as a means to serve wasn't worth retaining. You have neither cause nor right to make such sweeping claims about the desires of young people and how they end up serving.

    I can happily take you to Arlington and show you several good and dear friends who, were it not for West Point, would not have served in the military at all. By your statement, those heroes who left their lives behind and went around the world to die for a country which was largely inattentive weren't worth retaining because they wouldn't have served by any and all means. They may not have known what they were getting into when they signed up, yet it wasn't but a year later that those buildings fell and those same people didn't take the chance to leave. They saw their duty through to its mortal conclusion, and that's all that EVER needs to be said about their motivations.
     
  20. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    You are 100% correct regarding retaining. Yes, some go for the free education and find out through their own experience that this is their path that they were meant to be on.

    I hope you also realize that your comment of
    Is again offensive...what is so horrible of pining to serve in the military?

    Great, you found the military, but sorry, as a military spouse and mom, free education is not worth someones life...take loans for college instead.

    DON'T PLAY THAT CARD!

    I saw up front and personal how the military kicks the dependents out quickly. Shortly before Bullet went to FTU at Mt. Home, they too had a crash. The talk was the widow had 30 days to vacate base housing. When she did Housing had the gall (we were there when this occurred) to charge her $7 for the missing house key. The Commander came into housing and handed them a heap of metal...his key from the crash.

    When I was 9 months pregnant with our DS1, Capt Cliff Massegill (AFA 80) went down over the wash in the UK. He was Bullet's primary crewmate. Capt (posthumously) Dorset died with him on that February day. For 2 days they were not declared dead because they could not get to the bodies. Tom Dorset was single, Cliffy was married with a 6 week old baby. He had only signed his separation papers 3 days earlier. He was the Wing Safety Officer, and they died on a training mission.

    I lived on a base(base housing) in England where the 111 did cartwheels and the crew died at the end of the runway. For months when driving to the squadron to pick up Bullet, I had the reminder that even training can kill because I had to see the scorched ground.

    I was 8 months pregnant with DS2 when my DH was on the GREEN RAMP for the 82nd disaster. The community was devastated.

    I was OWC president at RAF Upper Heyford when the EF-111 went down during Gulf I, the surviving spouse served on my board, and was widowed with 3 children, the youngest was not even a toddler.

    I lifted my glass at the 1st anniversary death of boots, and not only knew him, but his wife, and her brother (another strike eagle driver).

    Bullet attended the funeral at Arlington for his brethren that died this past summer. They were with our sister squadron. He also attended Boots at Arlington.

    AGAIN, DON'T...DON'T ...DON'T....play that card. I have attended too many funerals. I have made the condolence meals. I have watched the wives crawl into their husbands arms as the flyby occurs or the flag is handed in honor of their country. DON'T, DON'T, DON'T GO THERE. Sorry, but anyone who has ever endured it would never bring that up like you did..."I can happily take you to Arlington"! Nobody wants to visit Arlington, and nobody wants to use that as one upmanship!

    OBTW, since you are new here, I am under the assumption that you do not realize I am BULLET'S DW and we live 30 miles from Arlington.

    Now you know how many funerals I attended and their stories do you still want to go down the road that I don't get life and death when it comes to the military.

    Would you like me to tell you about Bullet getting a phone call on Sunday morning from the 3rd Brigade for the 82nd and being in lock down by Saturday to jump into Haiti?

    It is important to me that we show the underbelly of the real military. I never expected what I endured, but it happened. Cadets who think this is a free education, need to understand what the true cost is.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2010

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