FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Two weeks ago, Sgt. Sandra Coast made history here at Fort Leonard Wood. To the best of our ability here at the GUIDON to determine, Coast, at 51 years of age, is one of the oldest persons to ever graduate from Basic Combat Training. As a fellow quinquaginarian, I salute her as this accomplishment is something that less than one-half of one percent of the population in this age group could do -- and something I would never even attempt.

Coast was no stranger to the military. As a former Sailor, she probably had a good idea what she was in for when she signed the papers and took the oath for the second time.

Despite her age, the Army accepted her and offered her the chance to continue service to her county. This desire to serve is admirable, regardless of what branch of service you feel akin to.

The story that Melissa Buckley wrote for the GUIDON (Feb. 16) allowed Coast to elaborate on what motivated her to take on basic training with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment. Coast described in detail how she went from mother of a Marine to Soldier.

And the mainstream media took the story and ran with it. Coast suddenly became quite the sensation, with Buckley's story finding its way to Time magazine, the Associated Press, and Huffington Post, just to name a few. On Feb. 23, Coast was featured on Fox news -- and the story continues to grow.

But all is not great. I was amazed at the negative comments that bloggers posted on a Washington Examiner website following a story by Joel Gehrke on Coast's accomplishment.

Most of the negative comments were from prior service members (or who claimed veteran status) who felt that the only way a female at age 51 could possibly complete basic training was if basic was now too easy. Other comments attacked Coast for being a Reservist and not leading a charge into a Taliban stronghold. Many of the negative postings reflected upon how difficult their own basic training was and how Coast must be a political pet of someone, suggesting her feat was only based on favoritism.

The simple fact is that Basic Combat Training has changed, not to become easier, but to produce a better Soldier. Our forces are more tech-savvy, better informed, and capable of sustained combat than ever before in our military history. The idea that we have lessened it to make quotas is just ludicrous.

It saddens me to think that there are actual people who think that way. Sgt. Sandra Coast did something that less than 99.999 percent of the population could never achieve, and for that, I stand and salute her -- as should every veteran.

Page last updated Wed February 29th, 2012 at 12:47