18D is the goal, too old for 18X, deciding between Active and National Guard

LongHiker

11B
Verified Military
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
21
So here's my dilemma. I qualify for 18 series except that at 32 I'm too old for an 18x contract. This is according to my AD recruiter and a SORB recruiter at Ft. Benning that he spoke with. So I would like to get some input on which route to take.

First, are age waivers available for 18x? I'm finding a lot of contradictory information. This thread here says a 34 year old got an age waiver in 2016 but I've also read here and on reddit that they don't give age waivers. 34yo hoping for SOF option(s)

Who else can I ask/call to get more information on 18x max age?

I've been working with my AD recruiter under the assumption that I can't sign an 18x contract. We've narrowed it down to two options:
  • 11b OPT 40(these are available to prior service per the 75th recruiting e-mail).
  • 11b Airborne(I'm not positive that I can get an airborne contract as prior service).
I just discovered yesterday that the Utah National Guard offers a Try One contract for prior service. Since I'm 11b MOSQ'd all I'd have to do is enlist there for a year, attend and pass a SFRE event then they'll set me up with a SFAS ship date. Provided I pass SFAS then I'd extend my contract and go to the Q course. If I fail SFAS I have the option to extend and re-class to a MOS for their support unit(I'd want 35P if that were available, they don't have 11b slots in Utah). I've been in contact with them and have gotten the paperwork started.

My goal is to become an 18D. Ideally active duty as then I could focus on soldiering 100% and not worry about a civilian career. But what concerns me about the OPT 40 and straight 11b options is that neither one has 18 series written into the contract. I was told I'd likely have a minimum service obligation of 18 months to Ranger bat before I could go to the Q course and haven't been able to find reliable info on what my service obligation would be if I went in as an 11b but I'd expect it'd take at least a few months even if my CoC was supportive and possibly much longer if they're not, or if I'm not at Bragg and need to PCS(is this correct? Can my CoC keep me from going to selection/Q course if I were in the 82nd or 1st ID or a unit like that?)

I'm thinking at this point my best option would be to take the Utah Guard's Try One contract. This guarantees me a shot at SFAS provided I pass their SFRE, which shouldn't be an issue. I'm not opposed to Ranger bat. It's a top-notch organization and I'd get amazing training. However I feel like if my end goal is SF then putting my body through the rigors of RASP, Ranger school, and battalion life and deployments and adding another 2-3 years to the timetable before attending Q course wouldn't be the best idea. I'd likely be 34-35 by the time I could attend selection and the Q course with that route. And finally I'm hesitant to go back in as an 11b to a regular unit. I think I'd hate life in the barracks(as an old man I try to go to bed by 9pm most nights now, I don't drink, and hate bars). I also don't want to get screwed by the needs of the Army and get sent to Korea or wherever and spend years before I can PCS for the Q course.

Thoughts? Opinions? I don't have any experience Active Duty, my prior service was 6 years in the Guard so I'm firing blind in my assumptions of what active duty life would be like and what my chances for going to selection there would be. It's just based on what info I've been able to gather online and through the recruiters.

Really ideally I'd just take an 18x except the damn age limit. Come on Army why the age limit!!
 

DeadZeppelin

Special Forces
Verified SOF
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
125
SSMP
SOF Mentor
A couple of things:

I'm sure it changes based on needs, but I have a friend I went through the Q course with, he was pushing 40 when he signed his 18X contract, and he got a age waiver. He was also prior service. I don't know if it's still possible to receive, but it's happened before. If you're dead set of Active Duty, look more into the age waiver.

If you take an Active Duty contract that is not 18X, there is no guarantee you will ever attend SFAS. If you go anywhere but Bragg for your first duty station, you must wait a year before you can PCS anywhere else. Also getting your chain of command to support you going to SFAS is a completely different issue.

Don't take an Option 40 contract if your end goal is SF.

If it were me, I'd go with the Guard. I think the "Try one" contract they offer is awesome for guys like you. That being said, if Utah still runs their program the way they did when I went through, you will have to prepare for Selection on your own. If you pass the SFRE, it's on you to prepare yourself for SFAS, they aren't going to give you insider knowledge or train you up. (which is how it should be, we want self starters).

Whatever you decide, good luck.
 

Devildoc

Verified Military
Joined
Nov 3, 2015
Messages
3,870
Location
Durham, NC
The Army is not my circus, not my monkeys, so not a lot I can add. I had a friend do the Try One thing, he ended up getting injured and just decided at his age (early 30s) to deep-six the idea, but stayed in the guard as SF support. He loved it, had great things to say about the entire experience.
 

LongHiker

11B
Verified Military
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
21
A couple of things:

I'm sure it changes based on needs, but I have a friend I went through the Q course with, he was pushing 40 when he signed his 18X contract, and he got a age waiver. He was also prior service. I don't know if it's still possible to receive, but it's happened before. If you're dead set of Active Duty, look more into the age waiver.

If you take an Active Duty contract that is not 18X, there is no guarantee you will ever attend SFAS. If you go anywhere but Bragg for your first duty station, you must wait a year before you can PCS anywhere else. Also getting your chain of command to support you going to SFAS is a completely different issue.

Don't take an Option 40 contract if your end goal is SF.

If it were me, I'd go with the Guard. I think the "Try one" contract they offer is awesome for guys like you. That being said, if Utah still runs their program the way they did when I went through, you will have to prepare for Selection on your own. If you pass the SFRE, it's on you to prepare yourself for SFAS, they aren't going to give you insider knowledge or train you up. (which is how it should be, we want self starters).

Whatever you decide, good luck.
Thanks for your advice! Yes from speaking with the recruiter I believe the readiness company which I enlist into only exists as a nominal holding company for those on the Try One contract. It doesn't sound like the REC actually drills or does any training. It's just a slot to put the soldier in and I'd just go down to their SFRE drills and do the weekends and then get a selection date when I pass. I also don't think I qualify for SOPC with this program.

It's a bummer to not get to go to SOPC or get extra prep at drills but I can get in shape and brush up on land nav on my own.
 

LongHiker

11B
Verified Military
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
21
The Army is not my circus, not my monkeys, so not a lot I can add. I had a friend do the Try One thing, he ended up getting injured and just decided at his age (early 30s) to deep-six the idea, but stayed in the guard as SF support. He loved it, had great things to say about the entire experience.
This is one of the things I really like about the Try One program. It basically eliminates all the risk from a traditional enlistment. If I fail/get injured/quit I'm not stuck sweeping floors and mowing grass with the 82nd. And if I decide that I want to stay in the military and continue to pursue Special Operations I can just re-class, train up more, and go to selection again later on. It seems like an option where I'm much more in control of my destiny. I like that a lot.
 

Cannon850

Green Beret
Verified SOF
Joined
Feb 11, 2019
Messages
24
I can shed some light on timeline if you go the active route. I was at my 1st unit after AIT for roughly 3 months when I signed up for selection, I went to SFAS at the 6 month mark, got selected and was able to get my unit to release me to work with the SOF recruiters until I PCS'd to Bragg at the 10 month mark. They say that you have to have a minimum 1 yr at your duty station before you're eligible to PCS, I don't know if I slipped under the radar or if that's not actually a hard rule, but I was out of there at 10 months. From working with the recruiters, I also know that your command has absolutely no power to prevent you from going to SFAS once you volunteer and get your date. When they find out they can make life more difficult for you, however those orders supersede everything, the recruiters told me the only thing they can get you out of was Drill SGT orders. Hell I even know one shitbag that went to SFAS in order to get out of a deployment (luckily he didn't even pass the PT test on day 1). This was all back in 2012 so perhaps the rules have changed but that was my experience.
 

Ball N' Chain

Infantry
Verified Military
Joined
Feb 1, 2017
Messages
188
Location
Hawaii
Hey, I can offer a bit of information/perspective from the 11b active duty side of it.
For starters, if you go into the Army as an 11b active duty, you would have a chance at getting in direct contact with a SF recruiter in OSUT.

Secondly, if that still doesn't work out because that is an 18x option they switch you to, once you get to your unit, you have the free will to go to the SORB office and go to selection as soon as the recruiters can get you there. Even here in Hawaii where you must fulfill 2/3rd of your time on island, which is generally 2 years, guys have come and gone to selection and passed, and just waited over a year before they PCS'd to the Q course.

Lastly, you saying you wanted to go to that prep course is also a possibility within active duty. We have a medic and an infantryman in my battalion that both were able to attend the prep course prior to selection, then immediately going into selection. This was this year.

This is just some information I have from what I have seen. Best of luck to you.
 

LongHiker

11B
Verified Military
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
21
@Cannon850 and @Ball N' Chain I really appreciate both of your input! It's nice to get more clarity on how the process works if I were to go back in as 11b on active duty without an 18x contract.

General update:
I've been working with the 19th SFG recruiters. Really professional guys. They've been very responsive and had good answers for all my questions.

I found out that I CAN attend SOPC if I want to. Basically the process looks like this:
  • Go to MEPS in Utah(has to be Utah, can't go to one out of state but they'll pay for a flight and put me up in a hotel).
  • Enlist into the Utah Guard.
  • Get a second SF physical done.
  • Attend SFRE at one of their drills.
  • Provided I pass SFRE then I have 120 days to ship to SFAS. I can also choose to attend SOPC if I want and then attend SFAS immediately after SOPC.
  • Come home after SFAS, if I'm selected I'll wait at home for a Q course. If I am a 21 day non-select or get injured at SFAS they're willing to send me back as many times as I want provided I don't come home with a "do not return" stamp.
  • PCS to the Q course and continue on with training.
I should be good to go! Hopefully won't run into any hiccups at MEPS. Now it's all about getting into shape. I really appreciate everyone's advice! I'll keep this updated as I go through the process.
 

Cannon850

Green Beret
Verified SOF
Joined
Feb 11, 2019
Messages
24
@Cannon850 and @Ball N' Chain I really appreciate both of your input! It's nice to get more clarity on how the process works if I were to go back in as 11b on active duty without an 18x contract.

General update:
I've been working with the 19th SFG recruiters. Really professional guys. They've been very responsive and had good answers for all my questions.

I found out that I CAN attend SOPC if I want to. Basically the process looks like this:
  • Go to MEPS in Utah(has to be Utah, can't go to one out of state but they'll pay for a flight and put me up in a hotel).
  • Enlist into the Utah Guard.
  • Get a second SF physical done.
  • Attend SFRE at one of their drills.
  • Provided I pass SFRE then I have 120 days to ship to SFAS. I can also choose to attend SOPC if I want and then attend SFAS immediately after SOPC.
  • Come home after SFAS, if I'm selected I'll wait at home for a Q course. If I am a 21 day non-select or get injured at SFAS they're willing to send me back as many times as I want provided I don't come home with a "do not return" stamp.
  • PCS to the Q course and continue on with training.
I should be good to go! Hopefully won't run into any hiccups at MEPS. Now it's all about getting into shape. I really appreciate everyone's advice! I'll keep this updated as I go through the process.
Glad to hear you got a plan dialed in! I will say that the NG guys were a huge asset in SFAS. The NG train up seemed to give them a leg up when it came to building the apparatus during team week, as they had already done it all before. If you did that, and SOPC you would probably have a solid chance at getting selected, barring you're not a total douche and get peered out.

Good luck, its the first step in a long road to reaching your goal but its all worth it when you finally get to "Don your beret!"
 
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