Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ten Years Ago: The Decision to Re-Enlist

Over the next few months I will be writing about why I re-enlisted at 54 years old after more than 23 years as a civilian. Ten years ago next month is when I actually began the process, but for several months before I was thinking about re-enlisting. Congress raised the enlistment age to 42 at the end of 2006. That gave me a window to re-enlist before my 55th birthday.

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Ten years ago this month, I had a good job, four kids at home, an amazing beautiful wife, a nice home, a nice life and I had just about convinced myself to call a recruiter and re-enlist.

At the time, in my mind, I wanted to do something for an undefined greater good.  Joining the Army National Guard seemed like something I could do for the state, the nation and I might even like it.

In half-dozen years preceding my re-enlistment I had tried volunteering for organizations that help the community. My wife was a hospice volunteer, a kidney donor, and a dozen other great things.  I raced my bike and rode 10,000 miles a year.

When I volunteered, the main difficulty was my fellow volunteers.  They were so nice. They wanted to be sure was happy volunteering. They agonized over the best way to do everything. And they drove me nuts.

The Army would not care how I felt, not care if I had scheduling conflicts and not care if I was happy. That sounded wonderful.

In retrospect, all this sounds crazy. But at the time, I really was on the way to convincing myself I was doing a good thing by re-enlisting at 54 years old.