Sunday, May 09, 2004

Before I continue the saga of how Ranger95 is a lowdown dirty despicable Gatorade thief... I am gonna answer a legitimate question about basic training.

The question dealt with what the advantages or disadvantages are for joining at a later vs. younger age.

I joined the Army when I was 24, and turned 25 in basic training (actually OSUT) at Ft Benning. Most of the people I joined with were from 18 to 20 years old, but there were some as old as or much older than me.

Having been a Drill Sergeant for about a year and a half now, I have to say that, like most things, it really depends on the individual. However, I can point out a few trends I see in older and younger soldiers.

The first thing is physical ability. When I get a soldier who is older than normal, it is nearly always either one extreme or the other. Sometimes they are already feeling the effects of their age ( actually not their age... but more years of a sedentary lifestyle) and sometimes they come in better off than the younger crowd. I have an older soldier right now who is around 30. He is far above the rest of the soldiers in physical strength, but is somewhere in the middle of the pack as far a running goes.

The most important thing is to get an early start BEFORE you show up for BCT. Young or old you should at least begin some low intensity cardiovascular training. In other words, go for a few walks... then a few jogs... then a few light runs until you have to report. Work your way up slowly so you dont overstrain your body, but work up a good sweat each time and try to run for at least 20 minutes.

Mentally, it depends most on how honest you are with yourself before you join, and how ell you prepare yourself. First, don't leave any business undone back home. Prepare yourself financially. Make sure your spouse or someone else has the power to pay your bills etc.

Here is the big one...

Believe it or not... if you join the Army during time of war... you might actually have to deploy somewhere.

This seems obvious but I have several soldiers who didn't realize this fully. Now, even though they are capable in every other way, they are miserable because they finally understand what SERVICE means. You go where you're told to go. You WILL leave your wife, husband, kids, dog, relatives and friends behind and exit the United States for 6 months to a year sometime soon.

Believe it or not, the soldiers I'm talking about are older. I guess they are better at fooling themselves or something. I don't really know how a 30 year old man or woman could fail to realize these things, but they did.

All in all, age is irrelevant. I once put an 18 year old PFC in charge of a anti-armor squad in the 101st for a while... because he was smart, capable and disciplined, while the soldiers who outranked him were immature and unprepared for a leadership role.

Hope this helps a little... for more on PT and running and stuff, look back through the archives. I've got some big posts on all those subjects back there somewhere.

Well... I'm off to stock up on Gatorade. I probably need to buy three or four bottle for each ONE that I plan on drinking. Somebody will most likely steal the rest. ;)

(For those fo you who don't know about the Gatorade saga... it's on the old xanga site. One of my fellow Drill Sergeants is a dirty low down Gatorade thief lol.)


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