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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, my amendment is very straightforward. It would simply allow individuals of any age to enlist in the military so long as they were able to meet all of the requirements to ensure that they're fit for duty.

Under current law, only individuals who are 42 years of age or younger are allowed to enlist in the military. This seems to be an arbitrary number. As we can all probably attest, there are some 20-year-olds that cannot run a mile. Yet there are a growing number of middle-aged men and women who are extremely physically fit and, whether due to family, work, or other obligations, were unable to enlist when they were younger.

I've heard from some of these individuals. Mr. Chairman. They are competitive runners, triathletes, and general fitness enthusiasts. I daresay they are stronger and fitter than many younger people, and they have an added benefit of life experience and maturity. Yet when they attempt to use these skills to serve their country, the military tells them, We don't want you, you're too old.

Not long ago, I heard from a man who was in just this situation. He is a competitive ultra-marathoner, the picture of health. This gentleman, who after starting a family and establishing a career, decided he was finally able to realize his dream of serving in his country's military. Unfortunately, he was told that he was just a few months too old. As a result, he could not enlist.

While stories like this gentleman's are compelling, there are other loss potentials to consider, also. One of our colleagues, my good friend and the gentleman from my home State of Georgia, Dr. Phil Gingrey, has experienced a similar issue. He's not trying to serve in combat. He's not trying to get a military retirement. He simply wants to serve his country using his training as a medical doctor. He went to enlist in the Navy Reserve; and to his surprise he was told that he was too old, even as the need for good medical doctors in the military ranks continues to grow. We should allow people like Dr. Gingrey to enlist in the military. My amendment would do just that.

We'll hear a number of Members on the floor today who are expressing concern about the multiple tours that so many of our men and women in uniform have had to serve, often back to back over many years. I share this concern; and I believe that if we were to lift this age restriction, we could open up the military to a new population of strong, capable individuals, who in many cases have finished their education and their careers, and have seen their children grow into adulthood. Many of them aren't seeking military retirement, but rather have advanced in their careers, put away enough for retirement, and are ready for a new challenge.

I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I'm 66 years of age. I'm in the United States Navy Reserve today, an active reservist as a general medical officer. There are many reservists not only in the Navy, but in other branches of the service that are beyond 42 years of age.

We have a critical need for doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, dentists, other specialties in our military, even as we turn down the size of our forces. I think it's critical to have the ability for people who want to serve, who are physically fit, who can meet all the requirements to be able to do so. That's all this amendment does. It does not waive any physical requirements. It does not waive anything that is out there today for someone to enlist. It's just going to utilize people who have the capability of serving to allow them to do so. Not doing so is actually discriminating against them just because they have celebrated a few birthdays.

I mentioned in my comments about an ultramarathoner that the military actually wanted. This guy was in better shape than most people who are in their twenties after they leave boot camp. The Army wanted him, but because he was just a couple of months too old, the law would not allow him to enlist.

He would have served this Nation very admirably. He wanted to serve. He was physically fit. He was capable of doing anything that a 20-year-old is capable of doing today. And my amendment would allow him--as well as the gentleman from Georgia (Dr. Gingrey)--to serve.

Dr. Gingrey is in good physical condition. He just wants to go utilize his medical experience and provide medical services to our men and women in uniform, and he should be allowed to do so also.

So I encourage my colleagues to vote for my amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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