By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs
Calgary, Alberta — Military service is something many of us would put near the top of any list of things best-suited to the young, but one Canadian Army Reservist shows that age is less relevant than ability.
Corporal Scott Sargent joined the Calgary Highlanders, a Canadian Army Reserve infantry unit in 2015 at the age of 40.
“I’d always had Infantry at the top of my mind,” he recalled. “I knew about the Calgary Highlanders, and a little about the physical challenges. It seemed like the right fit given that I was always very physically active. And I’ve got a bit of Scottish background as well so everything kind of fell into place for me.”
Cpl Sargent completed his Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) in his first year as a Highlander.
“You’re never really sure what to expect going in,” he said. “I knew I had to be ready physically so I guess that wasn’t too much of a challenge. I would try to be up front when it came to the runs. I’m a bit competitive – I wouldn’t ever want to be behind. I like to show the younger generation that I can give my best and still perform.”
Being a somewhat older new recruit was an asset in overcoming the equally tough mental challenges, Cpl Sargent added.
“My BMQ was during weekends, so we had to absorb a lot of information. They’re purposely putting you in stressful situations to see how you react, and I think I was able to handle that a little better initially having a little more life experience.”
During another phase of his training in the summer of 2017, Cpl Sargent said he was pushed to the edge but succeeded thanks in part to camaraderie as well as his own abilities.
“We earned each other’s trust over the summer. There was a bit of a low point: It had been about 36 hours, I’d say, since we’d slept. We were in a trench at about 3 a.m. when it started to rain. That was definitely challenging because you don’t have a lot left in the tank at that point. But those kinds of experiences brought us closer together.”
That phase took Cpl Sargent away from both family and work for two months and he is grateful to his wife, eight-year old son, and employer – Full Blast Creative, a Calgary-based marketing agency – for their support and understanding.
“I feel very fortunate that my employers have embraced it and they understand it’s a part of my life right now. And my family, of course, is very supportive. I certainly lead a very busy life. I have a young family and trying to find that balance is always a challenge for sure.”
Family played a significant part in attracting Cpl Sargent to the Army Reserve in the first place.
“My grandfather was an officer in the Navy in the Second World War. He was certainly an influence on me. He never talked about his experiences in the war until one day, while I was still in university, he described an engagement with the Germans – that was quite an eye-opener.”
And, though it took place nearly a decade before Cpl Sargent joined, a fateful encounter with another, younger soldier provided further inspiration.
“I was on a plane back home to Thunder Bay, Ontario one summer – I would’ve been in my early 30s – and I sat beside a soldier,” he said. “He’d just finished his second tour in Afghanistan and I couldn’t believe it because he couldn’t have been more than 25 years old. And the stuff he was telling me was unbelievable – some of the close calls he’d had. I was very impressed by his demeanor and overall maturity. Eventually, the timing was right and I decided to join.”
When asked if he has any particular ambitions for himself as a Reservist, Cpl Sargent said there are simply too many enticing options available – the range of Reserve mission tasks was expanded recently with the introduction of the Strengthening the Army Reserve (StAR) initiative – to say.
“There’s lots of opportunities that come up – whether deployment or even ceremonial opportunities in Ottawa during the summer,” Cpl Sargent said. “Right now, I’m just enjoying the experience.”
Interested in joining the Canadian Army Reserve? The Reserve accepts recruits from age 16 (with parental consent) to age 56. Reservists serve one night a week and one weekend a month. To join, start by dropping by the local armoury in your community or region.
Note that other new mission tasks available to Reservists include Long-Haul Trucking, Light Urban Search and Rescue and Light Engineer Bridging, among others.