Re-enlisting into Regs or sticking with TA at max age


I have a choice, still young enough to return to the Regs, but have opportunity to join a good TA unit.

If I rejoin the Regs after an absence of 12 years, I'm going to be on the lowest pay. I accept that. As we are married and own our own house very near to a possible garrison posting, would I be eligible for any benefits? I am 33. Might not get a full 22 in, but hey that's life.

My initial concerns would be pay parades etc when I have direct debits set up. Also, what carrot can I offer Mrs, in terms of seperation allowances etc. I've tried looking at serving soldier terms on but its all a bit confusing.

The reason I ask, is that my Civvy job is only 16k. Not enough to tempt me to stay in a dull civilian job, but I would get my TA pay topped up if mobilised.

Ideally, I'd like to rejoin as a regular. I am impressed that the Army have raised the recruitment age, but have they taken into account the extra committments that mature entrants are likely to have? Not that I'm asking to be treated as a special case, just that we are potentially making a bigger sacrifice than a 17 yr old who's still living with his parents.

Advice gratefully received.


I advise you to think long and hard about this!

I rejoined in 2003 at the age of 33 after a 3-4Yr period of Civi life

The advice I give you is based on my journey so it could be different for you but at least it’s a gauge!

1. I suffered 18 months of my wages being wrong
2. S type contract! Meaning you could possibly not qualify for any resettlement and leave the army...older but no wiser!
3. Caused me loads of strain with family due to finances and being posted overseas....wife doesn’t understand or believe the term, not been
4. course details, rank,seniority all big big problems

not saying no ..but think it through
Some good advice from personnel experience from warrior, from an ex recruiter side I would say that you need to go into ACIO/AFCO with your missus and your discharge paperwork. Because youve been out for 12 years you will have to do all the paperwork of a re-enlister so MCM Div will get involved so decide if your going back in of previous job. You will nearly definately have to do the whole selection again because of the fitness side and time out so expect to go to RSC.

Because you own your house and garrison nearby dont expect to be posted there probably 2000 miles away instead. You might be able to get a get you home package but you need to find out more ACIO should have this info.

Expect your pay to be all over the place for first few months if you get in.

Just because your older and wiser dont expect to go to top of the tree, bide your time youll get more respect that way. Remember the spotty 22 year old L/CPl is your boss even if your ten years older.

Sorry if its suck eggs time but if more specific questions pm me and ill try and help.


I think rejoining as a Regular is probably a good option, as long as you choose what you do very carefully and are prepared to eat humble pie for the first two years. You would also need to make sure that your wife was exceptionaly well briefed on what service life will mean for both of you. However, if you join the right cap-bagde, in the right trade and use you maturity and life experience to good effect then there is no reason why you should not prosper.

As to remuneration, a Pte on Lower Band Pay starts at £15,600 on the new pay scales. A full Cpl on Lower Band starts at £24,300. If you go in for the right trade and work hard you could get to that level in four years and then go on to have a full career. I was speaking recently to a WO2 who joined in his thirties when it was almost unheard of. He is doing very well and has used his age and maturity to good effect.

Be bold and do it. You could have a full career and earn a full pension.


Thanks for the advice everyone. A lot to think about but certainly helps to hear others experiences.
messym said:
Thanks for the advice everyone. A lot to think about but certainly helps to hear others experiences.
Check your pm


someone of your age and maturity would prosper in th TA and you would be able to a lot more than the minimum 27 MTDs (man trg days) a year. the TA would quickly recognise your previous experience and Intelligent Mobilasation will offer operational tours keeping your "dull" civillian job safe! You get the best pf both worlds! The best thing at this stage is that it's still your choice!
Still to think of, does you wife consider moving in M. Quarters, since you own your home, you could rent it out, as extra cash for the time being ?

As Gunner_REMF says for the TA also it works for the Reg's many people I know go for faster promotion due to the imaturity of the kids these days.


you should get a 22'er in!
I guess they have increased the 33 age enrollment to enable you to do the 22.
Leaving at 55 is not new!


Sounds to me like you'd be better off financially in the Army if your civi salary is within a few hundred pounds of the military one. Obviously you'd lose the TA pay, but that would be offset with the cheap qtrs / allowances etc.

Having said that I don't think I would rejoin at 33. I loved the Army when I was in it, and if I'd stayed in and progressed with my peers that would be fine. But to rejoin now, when the vast majority of your peers / immediate bosses will be 10 years younger than you - that would be tough.
Gunner_REMF said:
someone of your age and maturity would prosper in th TA
I don't think prosper would be the appropriate word in the sense of this blokes concerns - get ahead - yes, shine - more than likely but prosper???

Going back into the army will have the following advantages:

Security - always the big one, guaranteed wages whether you are laid up in bed, on exercise, on ops or on the missus. TA cannot guarantee that.

Pension - If you do qualify is very worth it (and Veng allowing personnel to remain in until 55 will more than likely swing in your favour). No pension in the TA.

And of course other advantages (or disadvantages depending on who you are/your personal experience etc) such as quarters allowing you to rent out your own home, fluffy uniforms, tasty scoff etc.

The only question I would ask myself if I were you is whether after a 12 year absence you would be able to bite your lip and take some of the shit that comes with the job? - you maybe beyond help :D


Thanks for the opinions guys. The long and short is that I started a law degree in the days before the age limit for regs increased. Reason being, I was too old for the Army, the Police was crap so off to do a law degree.

I've got one more postgrad exam on June 25th to pass, before I can start a training contract. No exam pass- no chance of becoming a solicitor.

I'm not spending the rest of my life as a paralegal (unqualified solicitor) on £16k, when I could go back to the regs. I've explained this to Mrs Messym and she understands, but would clearly prefer that I try for a unit in Colchester, where we live. This means 16AA Bde.

Alternative is the TA, then try and get S-type or FTRS.

If Ranulph Fiennes can do 7 marathons, in 7 days on 7 continents, after open heart surgery, then I could with the right preparation, cope with Regular Basic again, even P Coy.
E-Layer said:
Gunner_REMF said:
someone of your age and maturity would prosper in th TA
I don't think prosper would be the appropriate word in the sense of this blokes concerns - get ahead - yes, shine - more than likely but prosper???
I would like to jump in on that one, I would agree with E-Layer here, you may be ex-reg but that would of been for 3 years some 12 years ago, I made the jump to TA after a 6 year absence and my previous experience is appreciated, but then again I had 12 years and rank under my belt, if TA is something you want to do then don't expect anything as the likely hood will be that you are treated as a normal soldier and not an ex-reg, you will start from scratch and you will have to shine, to many a 3 year service is seen as a non service as its the minimum, in other words, you joined up, got through basic, turned up at the regiment, didn't like it/was a tool, left at first opputunity. I'm not saying thats what it was like but its all about perception, harsh as it may be I don't usually count previous exp unless you have 5 yrs in, but thats me. There is a real likelyhood of going through basic training in the TA again

As for regs, you need to think long and hard about it, why exactly did you leave in the first place? You need a better reason than not wanting to be on 16K a year. Also questions may be asked about commitment because I am reading Army>Police>Uni>Paralegal>Army(again)

Not trying yo pish on anyones fire, just a bit of realism is needed



I can answer two of those;

Firstly, when I didn't pass trade training in 1993, at Depot Int, Ashford, there wasn't the internet, or forums like these to get advice from. Had I been aware of quite how many other opportunities there were in the rest of the Army, I'd have found something that seemed realistic and stayed. If only there'd been an Army website or AARSE then.

As it was, despite passing a POC course and Basic at Lichfield, I was still an immature gobby 20 yr old crow. What I lacked in confidence I made up for in arrogance. The Int Corps decided that I was not what they were looking for and I was advised I could apply to transfer elsewhere if I wanted to stay in the Army.

The only source of information was one of the civvy staff on the training wing, who was responsible for finding out what vacancies were available.

At the time, she told me that my transfer requests were not possible. I asked for Para - "No vacancies". Artillery OP? "No vacancies", 17/21st Lancers? "No vacancies". I'd done basic at Prince of Wales Div at Lichfied, so tried PWRR. "No vacancies". Cutbacks was the reason given.

I was offered/advised to take a logistical role in the RAOC, but this wasn't for me and so I left, having the option under the O-Type. My red book detailed that my conduct was exemplary and I was pursuing further education. I was discharged under QR 1975 Para 9.414(c)(1). My testimonial is marked as "Released from Army Service" and I was not classed as "SNLR".

As for the Police, I thought a return to the Army was a no-go, so pursued an alternative career. I waited a few years till they recruited, only to find out that the job was boring and I was treated like an adult more in the Army.

At this time, I was too old under old regs to return to the Army as the cut off had been 26 and I was 29 when I started my degree. That's why I didn't go back then.

Commitment? I did commit to the TA when I was waiting to get into the Police. The only reason I left was because I had to formally resign, hand kit in from the TA before I could start Police Training. I throughly enjoyed the time I spent with the HAC. There were guys in their 40's on the patrols course.

Also, it takes a lot of commitment and dedication, at the age of 29, to leave a well paid career to study full time and still work 25 hours a week to pay the bills, then get a decent law degree.

But for me, this isn't enough. I realise I made some bad decisions, but I've come a long way since being a naive 19yr old Tom. I've done the brain challenging bit, but every time I see the Paras in Helmand, I feel that I've missed out.

Also, living (coincidentally) behind 3 Para in Colchester, constantly reminds me of what I feel I could have done with my life. I only have to look out of my spare bedroom window to see directly onto the parade ground. Revising was often interrupted by helicopters flying in, but I never complained, just felt envious.

Instead, I advise people on benefits (which I've never claimed, even though I'd been entitled to at one point), on how to get out of debt or how to take their employers to tribunals. I'm on a low wage as it's Legal Aid work and I don't have the academic background (UCAS points) to pursue a training contract in the City. It's not just about the wages. If I don't pass the June exam, I won't progress in my current role. That's why the chance to return to the Army is appealing.

IF I'm wanted and IF I get a 2nd chance, I could still get a career in, get promoted, see a bit more of the world (ok, realistically see a lot of some countries) and get to the end of my life thinking "well that was an adventure."

Incidentally, the TA unit I've contacted have been full of encouragement. They are fully aware of my history, but it makes no difference. I've simply got to meet the challenge they offer. I'm fitter now than I ever have been since leaving the Regs and this will only improve. I've also got a fair bit of life experience, having dealt with fatal accidents, suicides under trains, violent domestics, child abuse etc in the Police.

I can honestly say that I'm not the same person who walked out of the Regs back in 1993.

I think realistically, if it comes down to being selected on ability alone (TA) or having to beg/plead to rejoin the regs directly, then I'd be better off giving the TA a 110% and letting them decide if I'm up to the job. If I am, then I can look for S-type, FTRS once I'm up to speed.

I think this recent policy change in the Army will leave many thinking "maybe, just maybe, I've got another chance?"

Apologies for the long winded reply, but I've been giving this a lot of thought as you can tell.

To quote Ranulph Fiennes,

"It is better to try a few prawns and decide if you like them, before announcing to the world that you intend to devour a lobster"
But for me, this isn't enough. I realise I made some bad decisions, but I've come a long way since being a naive 19yr old Tom. I've done the brain challenging bit, but every time I see the Paras in Helmand, I feel that I've missed out.

And that my friend is all the motivation you need.

1993, tough break mate “Options for Change” what a pain in the career that was. I can see now what they mean by “No Vacancies” but couldn’t you of stayed green slime and found a different role or was storeman the only option? Either way tough break, at that time they binned all sorts as there was a surplus, thing was a few years later they were begging for people.

What you need to decide now is whether you want a military career or you wish to serve your nation and plug that hole you have, if it’s the former, then decide on something you want to do and can do, speak to the ACIO and take it from there. Remember that you are pretty much throwing everything away from your past, the Law Degree you spent so much time on will be pretty pointless in an Inf Section or Arty OP , unless of course you need to help the lads over legal advice when it comes to naked human pyramids. At this moment in time you may be sick of it and want to throw it away and get dirty, but will you live to regret it ? If it’s the latter then get yourself along to the TA unit that takes your fancy and join in.

I have the feeling that you are going through a sort of mid-life crisis, yes you can get them in your 30s, I’m not knocking you for it, we all, including myself, go through it, just be careful. Joining the Regular Army is truly a young mans game, if you want a career, you will not be rejoining, you will be joining again, you didn’t get through Phase 2 (trade training) which means, in a sense, you never really joined the army, I doubt that you will be able bypass training, so in a sense you will start again.

If you want my advice try the TA, you will be doing your bit for Queen and Country whilst fulfilling the need to get your belt buckle dirty both on ex and on tour but you won’t be chucking away that Law Degree nor will you have to re-locate to the arrse end of nowhere (saying you want Para is one thing, getting it, passing it and staying there is another). I hate my civvy job, but it pays very well and I live for Tuesday nights now. But if you are going to do it, do it. I currently work on our recruiting team and I see far to many “WishIdiditorcandoitagain”s who pop up all full of fire and then disappear far too fast, often because they realise what it takes to be a solider or what it was they didn’t like when they were in. But those that stay are gold, our VM wanted to join the army but was offered an apprenticeship in car mechanics, years later the bug of the army and the feeling of failure got to him and he joined, we needed a VM and offered him a spot doing his job but in green, he loves it, the great thing about the TA is if you give it your all, you can get the recognition (dependant on unit and personnel of course)

Have fun
Check your pm messym

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