Older Recruits Grapple With Army Life
Unemployment pushes steady stream of 'Pops' and 'Gramps' into the military
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2009 6:22 AM CDT
Soldiers stand at attention during an induction of new recruits on the field prior to the US Army All-American Bowl football game. Recruiters say up to a tenth of new soldiers they see are over 35.   (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
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(Newser) – A steady stream of over-35s have been joining the Army since the age limit was raised to 42, and both sides have had plenty of adjusting to do, the New York Times reports in a look at the 3,800 older recruits, whose numbers, though small, have surged this year along with the rise in unemployment. Basic training can be tough on their creaky joints, but commanders see them as more committed than their teenage cohorts, and often expect them to be unofficial disciplinarians.

Younger soldiers make it though basic training at a somewhat higher rate, but many older recruits successfully learn to deal with the rigors of training, the absences from their families—and with being called "Gramps." "I've just tried to keep my head down, keep my mouth shut and not wring necks," said one 38-year-old recruit, who has gotten used to doing push-ups and being chewed out by drill sergeants in their early 20s.