Soldier joins Army at age when many look to retire
June 27, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- If you ask Soldiers why they enlisted in the Army, some say they joined to get money for college, a better life for their Family, or a chance to travel and enjoy multicultural experiences. Others say they did not know what else to do, or "I always wanted to be a Soldier."
But for one Soldier, it was because her son dared her.
Sgt. Catherine Gyure was a 41-year-old restaurant manager training to be a district manager of a nationwide chain when her then-18-year-old son was preparing to enlist into the Army Reserve.
That same year, 2006, Congress changed the maximum age of non-prior-service enlistment to 42. With 25 years in the restaurant business already, Gyure started looking ahead at the civilian retirement age. Many more years and long hours were ahead of her if she stayed in her current job.
As she and her son sifted through the benefits, opportunities and enlistment requirements for the Army Reserve, they learned the age limit had changed. This change made Gyure eligible and the dare enticing.
"I was a restaurant manager and I was thinking 'another 25 years (until retirement); I do not want to do this,'" said Gyure, who is assigned to F Company, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Rear.
"It's not an easy job," she added. "So, when I saw that the enlistment age limit was 42, I joked with my son about joining myself."
Gyure remembers her son, Christopher, joking with her about it and saying she would never do it. He was caught off guard when she took the dare seriously and decided to join full time.
"It was pretty awesome. It started off as a bet / dare when I was 18 years old, when I was doing the whole enlistment thing," Christopher Gyure said. "A lot of enlistees were my age or a little bit older. There weren't any parents or (40-somethings), so I dared her. 'You wouldn't cut it; you wouldn't be able to do it.'
"So she definitely proved me wrong," he said.
After careful consideration and weighing the pros and cons against her civilian job, Gyure could not find a reason not to join. But first she had a hurdle to clear: lose weight.
"I was overweight when I first decided. I lost close to 100 pounds to come in," she said "And I came out of basic and advanced individual training getting a 270 on my PT test."
Gyure's main objective when selecting her military occupational specialty was that it had to be something she never had done before. Because she became a manager when she was 18, she learned many different skill sets throughout the years and wanted something totally different.
After going through the MOS list at the recruiting station, she chose 92F, petroleum supply specialist.
"I needed a big change in my life; call it a mid-life crisis, call it whatever you want," she said. "I couldn't do what I was doing for another 25 years."
Although Gyure is a qualified petroleum supply specialist, she took a job in the company training room for F Company, where she keeps track of Soldiers' training records. Consistent with her "change" theme, this job afforded her an opportunity to branch out and learn even more.
During a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La., in March 2012, while working inside the command post, she was asked to be a member of the company's intelligence support team.
Her job was to rapidly compile information from the simulated battlefield and send it up to the battalion tactical operations center.
Again, Gyure seized the opportunity to do something new.
"Being something new, I took the job and ran with it," she explained. "I found it very interesting; I learned a lot, and when I saw the counterintelligence agent MOS open up as a star MOS, I went to a briefing that was given by agents from Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
"I am putting my packet together (now) to change my MOS," she added.
Gyure has had many different experiences since she joined the Army six years ago, from the harsh realities of basic training, to long Fort Drum winters and a nine-month deployment in Iraq.
During that time in the military, she has found something that has kept her occupied and learning -- something that has kept her motivated to stay in the Army.
"This I could do for another 25 years," she said happily. "I want to put another 14 years in. That was my plan -- to put 20 years in and be able to retire at an earlier age than I would as a civilian with a fulfilling career."
Life is not all about a fulfilling career and learning new jobs.
Gyure has a fun side that has taken her across the United States on Saturn Sky road trips, meeting new people and showing off her car.
"I bought the Saturn Sky in 2006 when it first came out. The Sky was a concept car," she explained. "I actually have the first year of the car.
"Nobody who bought it (then) had ever driven or ever sat in one, because they did not have them available to road test or anything."
Excited about getting her new car, she got involved in a forum online with other people who were in the process of ordering a Sky.
They shared details about the features they selected, such as color, modifications and accessories.
"It was like our own little community," she said. "I went on my first run in June 2006 and met about 40 people, all with brand-new cars."
Gyure has not let anything get in her way to a successful time in the Army. Even though she entered the Army at an age when many Soldiers are getting ready to retire, she does not let that bother her.
She is not working toward that great civilian job; she is just working toward a great military job.
"Most of these guys are coming in and getting their training and going to school to get that great civilian job when they get out," she said. "I already had my civilian life.
"When I am done in the Army, I am retired," she added. "I am done."