January 2, 2009, Murfreesburo, Tennessee – A veteran who has been out of the military for 15 years and recently received his AARP card was stunned when he received notice he will be deployed to Iraq.
The last time Paul Bandel, 50, saw combat was in the early 1990s during the Gulf War.
“(I was) kind of shocked, not understanding what I was getting into,” said Bandel, who lives in the Nashville, Tenn., area.
In 1993, Bandel took the option of leaving the Army without retirement and never thought he would be called back to action.
“Here he’s 50 years old, getting his AARP card, and here he’s being redeployed with all these 18-year-olds,” said Paul’s wife, Linda Bandel.
“I can understand, say, ‘Here, we have this assignment for you stateside. Go do your training,'” said Paul Bandel. “But, ‘Hey, here’s a gun, go back to the desert.'”
Involuntary recall allows the military, regardless of age or how long someone has been out of service, to order vets back into active duty.
“Anger’s not the word. I was more concerned about the financial impact it’s going to do. My pay’s probably cut in half,” said Paul Bandel.
“Right now, I’m just in disbelief because it’s like the disbelief that this could be happening 15 years after being out of the military. It’s like a dream or a nightmare,” said Linda Bandel.
The veteran is dusting off his old uniforms and torn between his duty to his country and obligations as a grandfather.
“I certainly never thought I’d be going back there at this point in my life,” said Paul Bandel.
The last missile system the veteran was trained to operate is no longer used by the military.
Calls to the Army and the Pentagon about how many men and women in their 50s are being called back to duty were not returned Wednesday.
Paul Bandel will be deployed overseas until 2010. His wife plans to move in with her elderly parents until his return.