Staff Sgt. Monte L. Gould is a 59-year-old Marine Corps veteran that went on to serve as a Civil Affairs soldier in the U.S. Army Reserves until choosing to separate from service in 2009. Now, after a ten year break from the uniformed life, Gould is set to return to the Army’s Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson in June.
Gould chose to leave service to focus on spending time with his family, but after work became more scarce for the veteran in the civilian sector, he made the decision to return to the U.S. Army in a reserve capacity. Based on his accumulated service within both the Army and Marine Corps, Gould will only be three years away from earning a retirement.
For Gould, this represents an opportunity to return to service, but he also sees it as a chance to inspire and teach younger soldiers.
“It’s kind of cool that they get to see somebody who is 59 and isn’t all fat, beat up with diabetes and on their death bed,” said Gould. Gould’s new unit, the 405th Civil Affairs Battalion, won’t be bereft of familiar faces for the Afghanistan veteran-turned-recruit. His son, Spc. Jarrod Gould is already assigned to the same unit.
“To me, this is a last hurrah. To have the opportunity to serve again is a thrill. I’m looking down the gun barrel at 60, and I know all the health problems that come after that.”
Despite Gould’s humility about his fitness, there’s a good chance he’ll be in better shape than some of the brand new recruits arriving at Fort Jackson. Gould still trains in jiu jitsu and goes on a 7-mile hike wearing a 50-pound weight on his back at least once a week.
“Amazingly this 59-year-old is NOT the oldest person to go through basic,” said U.S. Army Recruiting Command spokeswoman Lisa M. Ferguson. “In July 1999, a 68-year-old shipped to basic training.”
Gould’s military experience began back in 1978, when he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. After getting out, he went on to enlist in the Army National Guard as an infrantryman during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Later, he’d go on to join a Civil Affairs unit with the Army Reserve in Upland, California. It was during his tenure as a civil affairs soldier that Gould deployed to Afghanistan in 2004. After leaving Civil Affairs, Gould then went on to serve in 7th Psychological Operations Group, also out of California.
At one point, Gould even submitted a package for Special Forces selection, but was turned down.
“The guy laughed at me; he said you’re too old,” Gould recalled. “I was like 40 at the time.”
Gould’s civilian experience is nothing to scoff at either. Gould spent time on California Department of Corrections’ SWAT Team before retiring as a security consultant.
Despite Gould’s excitement about getting back into basic training, his sentiments about the Army echo similar sentiment’s expressed by many veterans. It’s not the service branch that people tend to miss, it’s the people.
“I miss the comradeship,” he said. “I don’t miss the Army. I miss being on a team.”
Feature image courtesy of Staff Sgt. Monte L. Gould on Facebook