Canadian Army Reservist proves that age is just a number

Article / June 25, 2019 / Project number: 19-0161

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By Corporal Cody Misner, 31 Canadian Brigade Group and Grey and Simcoe Foresters Public Affairs with files from Lynn Capuano, Army Public Affairs

Hamilton, Ontario — Second-Lieutenant Juan Rios Arrubla never thought he'd be taking part in a Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) course, especially at the age of 48.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, he has also applied to transfer from the part-time Canadian Army Reserve to the full-time Regular Force and is continuing his training toward that goal.

Significantly older than most of his course-mates during their September 2018 to February 2019 BMQ, he was nonetheless eager to develop new skills in a military career. Recruits may join the Canadian Army up to the age of 57, with some exceptions best explained by contacting a Canadian Army recruiter.

2Lt Rios Arrubla signed up as a Signals Officer in November 2017 with 31 Signal Regiment. This Canadian Army Reserve communications unit is part of 31 Canadian Brigade Group, with squadrons in both Hamilton and London, Ontario. 2Lt Rios Arrubla’s unit is in Hamilton.

The Regiment – the first wireless detachment in Canada to provide radio communications during the First and Second World Wars – provides expedient and reliable wired and wireless communication to Canada’s military using advanced voice and data systems.

"I chose Signals because it was something new and exciting to learn in my life,” said 2Lt Rios Arrubla. “It's like a 180 degree turn from my civilian background, but I was always trying to learn more in this field,” he said about his new trade.

2Lt Rios Arrubla immigrated to Canada in October 2009 under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.  Born in Colombia, South America, he earned his Food Processing Engineer degree from Corporación Universitaria Lasallista in Columbia. In this highly technical occupation, he designed food processing plants and equipment that controls food production.

Basic training posed its challenges

"At the beginning, staying there alone without my family was hard, but after a while I found comfort and motivation in the friends I made,” he said in reflection.

“The physical demands were tough too, and my English isn't as good as the younger troops I train with, but they motivate me to keep up.”

Teamwork is key to any military unit – especially for those in this new soldier’s position – but 2Lt Rios Arrubla, like all new recruits, brought experience to the table. “I try and be smart – using experience and maturity – in order to keep up with them," he said.

In addition to looking for adventure while serving Canada, most Reservists join as students in college or university or even through high school co-op programs in their youth. Many join for the benefits of full-time summer employment, which is guaranteed for Reservists in their first four years of service, and tuition reimbursement.

However, the drive of individuals like 2Lt Rios Arrubla showcases that a career in the Army isn't limited by age – and experience and maturity can be important additions to a winning team.

The road ahead for 2Lt Rios Arrubla

2Lt Rios Arrubla applied in 2018 to transfer from the Army Reserve to the Regular Force as a Signal Officer and is awaiting approval.

Meanwhile, he is continuing with his training with BMOQ-Army under the Full-Time Summer Employment program.

A family man, he is married with a son aged 21 and a daughter who is 8 years of age. “They are so proud of me, and my little one likes it when I go to the school wearing the uniform.”

Age to join the Canadian Army Reserve or Regular Force: To join the Canadian Army Reserve, a recruit must be 16 (with parental consent, 17 (if enrolled full time in school) or up to 57 years of age, with some exceptions. See “Train for your true calling” in Related Links to contact a recruiting centre for more details.

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