By Spc. Michael VanpoolFebruary 15, 2011
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Feb. 15, 2011) -- It was just months after her husband retired from the Army that 39-year-old DeirdrAfA Taylor-Scales began her own military career.
"My friends and family thought I was going through a mid-life crisis," said the Houston, Texas native, now an active duty Army specialist. "Some people buy red Corvettes. I wanted to wear combat boots."
It was back in 2005 when Taylor-Scales laced up her boots to join the Army. "It sounds crazy now, but it's what I wanted to do," she said.
Taylor-Scales now the Standard Army Maintenance System-II, or SAMS-II manager for the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, initially enlisted under an Army test program that raised the cutoff age for an enlistee to 42.
"They wanted to see how older Soldiers would help younger Soldiers," she said.
Her husband, a retired master sergeant, told Taylor-Scales about the program and inspired her to enlist.
"I liked the qualities he had as a Soldier, as an NCO," Taylor-Scales said "I wished I could've done that when I was younger."
She started the Army at the bottom, and would have to work her way up through the ranks.
"I would have to go to Basic Combat Training," Taylor-Scales said. "I would have to start as a Soldier, as a private."
Twenty-four enlistees started the test program and only seven graduated BCT, she said.
Taylor-Scales went into the Army Reserves initially, joining the 55th Sustainment Brigade at Fort Belvoir, Va. as an automated logistical specialist after completing training. She also started a job as a dispatcher for a police department. After two years, she decided to focus more on the military.
"I chose to come into the active component to be a part of something bigger," Taylor-Scales said. "I wanted to do more -- I wanted to wear my uniform every day."
She met with a recruiter to fulfill her wishes. Her only request was to be stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
"It was a special assignment to me," she said. "I had only been to Virginia and Texas. If I was coming in at my age, I wanted to do something incredible. The Arctic is amazing."
She got her wish. Taylor-Scales packed up and headed to Alaska with her husband and two sons to begin her active duty career.
"I made a solid decision to be a Soldier and everything it came with," she said. "When I raised my hand, I knew being a Soldier would be integrated into my life."
She continued her military education at Fort Richardson by graduating the Warrior Leader Course, becoming proficient in SAMS-II and completing military correspondence courses.
"I want to be the best at it," Taylor-Scales said. "I wanted to challenge myself at that age. The standards keep me young."
While working with Soldiers nearly half her age, Taylor-Scales assists younger Soldiers with challenges they encountered in their lives.
"I made sure that I provide guidance to younger Soldiers, but don't place any pressure on them," she said. "I let the young Soldiers figure out their life experiences."
Taylor-Scales' life took another turn when she deployed to Afghanistan this past year. Her family has supported her throughout her tour.
"I sacrifice a lot to be away from my family and serve the military," she said. "The family comes first. There's not enough money in the world to change that."
Her husband continued to guide her with his past military service and supported her unit as the battalion's Family Readiness Group Advisor.
"He was a good NCO," she said. "He was a blueprint to what a Soldier is."
(Spc. Michael Vanpool writes for TF Lifeliners, 101st Sustainment Brigade)