Answering The Call Of Duty Again – Why Are These Veterans In Their 50’s Re-Enlisting?

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Their stories need to be told and their service honored.

Since 9/11 there has been a surge of people joining the military for the first time, or reenlisting, according to AARP.  There have been nine such enlistments this year alone, according to the Defense Department.

What motivates these older middle agers to put themselves back in harm’s way?  The video below is telling.  It’s the first person account of Colonel Frederick Lough.

Certainly Col. Lough served his country.  He was a surgeon in the Army Medical Corps from 1970 to 1987.  He left and went into private practice.  But he was disturbed by how deadly the weaponry used in the war in Afghanistan was to US soldiers.  So at the age of 58, he reenlisted and was deployed to Afghanistan twice.

Watch the video below as he tells his story.  Then read about others who have answered the call of duty once again. 

…The military services have traditionally had an upper age limit for active duty service enlistments:

  • Navy- 34
  • Army- 35
  • Marines- 29
  • Air Force- 39
  • Coast Guard- 27

So how does one enter active duty military beyond the standard retirement ages? The military allows certain people to enlist after these age caps because of the unique skills they are able to offer. Anyone who enters today’s all-volunteer military after the age of 50 is able to do so because they fit specific, unfilled needs…


One of the men covered by the AARP is Capt. Sam Carlson. He had already done his time. He enlisted the first time as a 20-year-old in 1967 and retired after a 20-year career in 1987. During his service he had served in several capacities, including the with the military police and as an intelligence officer. He was called back to duty at Ft. Meade, MD in 2005 because of his skill set. He volunteered to go to Afghanistan in 2007 and was deployed with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. He retired —again— in 2008. But that would not be the end of his story.


He was called up again shortly thereafter and went back to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division as an intelligence officer at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank in the Logar Province of Eastern Afghanistan.


While he was there he was affectionately called “OCITA,” the Oldest Captain In The Army.

Carlson comes from a long family tradition of military service. Both his grandfather and father served; his grandfather in WWI and his father in WWII and Korea. His son served both in the first Gulf War and in Afghanistan. He even has a grandson who was deployed during the second Gulf War!




Others, like Dr. Lawrence Bone, joined the military for the first time in their 60s. He had enjoyed a successful career as an orthopedic surgeon in Buffalo, NY. His son, Christian, was wounded in action in 2008 by an IED while serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. Bone’s world changed completely with that news. He felt obligated to offer his orthopedic and surgical skills to the military to serve others who were suffering from the kind of devastating injuries his son had endured. He was 63 when he left his practice and joined the Army Reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He said:


“I felt that because someone had taken care of my son, I should take care of them.” He has since done two deployments to Afghanistan, including time at FOB Shank…


Source:  The Veterans Site  Image Source:  AARP

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