Age Limit To Enlist In Air Force – Airman 1st Class Yoko Holden, 40, is one of about 750 people between the ages of 35 and 39 who have joined the active Air Force since the age limit was raised to 39 in 2014. (A1C by Yoko Holdren)
He tried to find work for more than a decade, but seemed to run into obstacles. At first she traveled frequently with her husband, Master Sgt. Care expenses for Donovan Holden and their three children.
Age Limit To Enlist In Air Force
Then there were the German employment and citizenship rules at Ramstein Air Base, where the family was stationed. The green card was about to expire. And when he wanted to get a job after his youngest son started school, the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Become An Air Force Officer
“I thought, ‘If I join the Air Force, they can train me from scratch,'” he told Air Force Times. “I’ll take the job at hand.”
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Now an airman in first class at a security forces technical school, Holdren is one of hundreds of people in their late 30s who have joined the Air Force since the service raised its age limit for new recruits. Although a career change offers new challenges and a second chance, it is another way to strengthen and diversify the service.
In 2014, the service raised the active duty enlistment age from 27 to 39 for those with no prior military service. The Air Force Reserve has raised its age limit from 34 to 39.
Joining The Air Force Reserve
Since then, the active-duty force has supported 574 operational and 39-year-old Airmen, just 0.5 percent of all active-duty personnel over the past eight years, according to Air Force Recruiting Service data. Their interest in joining the Air Force is increasing almost every year, from a recruitment of this age group in 2014 to 137 in 2021.
The Air Force prohibits anyone over 39 from becoming an officer in most fields, although hopefuls from the health services and ministries can enter the service up to age 49.
Operations and Support Officers have 172 active aircraft 35 years or older that were inducted between 2014 and 2021. Within eight years only more than 3% of officers entered the field.
Hiring of older officers is more volatile than the listed difference, moving from a high of 61 in 2019 to a low of two in 2021.
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Then Airman 1st Class Erin Zimpfer, a public affairs photojournalist with the 445th Airlift Wing, spends time with her children. Zimpfer started a new chapter in his life for himself and his children when he enlisted in the Air Force just before the age of 39. (Courtesy photo)
Americans approaching middle age are often drawn to the Air Force for a variety of reasons. Some parents are looking for something new after starting a family or putting their military dreams on hold. Others find opportunities later in life, with or without a college degree; And some reconsidered their future after a major life change.
Zimpfer — born the sixth of seven children — was the first in her family to graduate high school, then married and homeschooled her four children as a stay-at-home mom for 14 years. That trajectory changed in 2017, when she was divorced and struggling to make ends meet.
After high school, spurred on by his younger sister’s success in the Air Force, Zimpfer plunged into his military life. He took the oath of registration in February 2018, one month before his 39th birthday.
Uniforms Of The United States Air Force
“It was the fastest way to get to where I wanted to be, and I really wanted to get a degree and use the benefits of an education,” she said. “Everything just fell into place.”
While most recruits join the Air Force before age 30, older airmen have had more time to fully develop their emotional intelligence, work ethic and decision-making skills. This maturity can help them deal with the ups and downs of military life better than some of their younger peers.
“If you’re in your 30s, you’ve had life experiences and you’re here for a reason,” former Air Force civilian and airman Hugo Escobar said in a 2016 video on his YouTube channel, “Your Military Money.” “Better to show up late than never to the Air Force party.”
Escobar and others online, who offer anecdotes and advice about joining the Air Force later in life, caution that staying in shape and protecting yourself from injury are important.
Air Force Tuition Assistance (milta)
Concerned about being able to meet the physical demands, Holdren, a self-described exercise hater, began training a year before attending basic military training.
However, he said the security forces can be a good fit for non-native English speakers like himself because they focus more on physical fitness than academics.
“They’re saying the test [to become a security forces plane] is easy,” Holdren, a Japanese American, said in November. “That’s good for me…if I had to take the test in English, I’d probably have a hard time.”
Skilled airmen are also advised to be mentally flexible, as the military can change established routines and apply more rules to everyday life than in the civilian world, with those in charge of young airmen.
Admissions Requirements • United States Air Force Academy
“When I have a house and bills and I’m responsible, it was really frustrating for me to be as limited as an 18-year-old,” Zimpfer said of tech school. “Having that limit [at 10 o’clock], or not being able to be off base … was something that had to be accepted.”
Her decision to leave her four children, aged 11 to 15, to train with her ex-husband for seven months tested her resolve more than anything else. However, he faced his fears and got on board, a move that was easier because the children were older.
“I don’t have to worry too much about my kids because they’re at school [in Rammstein],” Holdren added of his three children, ages 7 to 13. “I can concentrate on my work.”
After passing the boot camp and technical training, the senior airman hopes to win the bet.
Asvab Scores And Air Force Jobs
Joining the reserves opened up opportunities for Zimpfer without a college degree or significant work history. He has held positions in public affairs and finance at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, first as a civil service employee and now as a contractor.
When he was laid off from his civilian job as a commercial compliance specialist for an Ohio manufacturer, Zimpfer called Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris, the reserve public affairs chief for the 445th Airlift Wing. Harris immediately gave him an active warrant, leading to a job offer at Apogee Engineering.
Along the way, Zimpfer wants to get a bachelor’s degree and switch to the field of human intelligence with a top-secret clearance.
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Ways To Join Indian Air Force
In addition to providing a path to higher education, military medical benefits and job stability can be especially helpful for older airmen who need to support their families. Some jobs that can be done anywhere, like basic security, can help keep dual military couples like the Holdrens together.
He currently plans to return to Ramstein as an advocate after tech school at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. He is pursuing a degree in cyber security and is also interested in pursuing a degree in criminal justice with the goal of one day obtaining a master’s degree.
He has no long-term plans, but said if he likes his job and stays healthy, he will work beyond his four-year contract.
“I don’t know if it’s right for everyone’s situation, but I’m very happy that I did it and it worked,” he said.
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Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as a senior reporter in March 2021. His work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, Frederick News-Post (MD), The Washington Post, and others.
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