Bundeswehr in the Corona crisis: Reservists should be allowed to help longer

A Bundeswehr soldier helps out in a vaccination center in Saxony-Anhalt.

Matthias Bein / picture alliance via Getty Images

Ulrich Graf would like to continue. For years, the dental surgeon helped in a medical regiment of the German armed forces, was involved in several exercises of the armed forces with other NATO countries every year, and instructed younger medical soldiers in the care of the wounded.

At the beginning of last year, Graf received a letter, three lines long. His appointment as a reservist was canceled for “organizational reasons”. The “organizational reasons” have something to do with Graf’s age: He is over 65 – and from this age onwards, Bundeswehr reservists are no longer permitted to perform active service by law.

A disappointment for Graf. Of course, the physical abilities of over-65s are limited, Graf tells “But I can, for example, show the younger paramedics what to watch out for in order to stay alive in dangerous tactical operations.” As long as fitness if there was enough, older reservists could contribute profitably to the armed forces.

The FDP wants to make this possible in the Bundestag and wants to bring a corresponding motion in the Bundestag that has received.

FDP also justifies the application with the corona crisis

In its motion, which is to be discussed in the Bundestag in the fourth week of January, the party calls for the age limit for reserve service providers to be removed from the Reservists Act.

“Especially in times of crisis, such as the Oder flood in 2002 or the corona pandemic in 2020, the Bundeswehr can also provide administrative assistance. Thousands of reservists have volunteered to help out, ”the letter reads. “In such cases, healthy former soldiers who have already exceeded the previous maximum age of 65 could do their reserve service.”

Alexander Müller, chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the defense committee, said to “What is the point of forcibly dismissing a lung specialist from reservist service at the age of 65 if he still wants to help combat the crisis? Even the experienced dredger operator in the pioneer team can still volunteer to help with the next flood at the age of 66. ”

Ultimately, only the “will of the reservists to continue, as well as physical and mental fitness – but not a rigid age limit” are decisive.

Bundeswehr reservists association holds talks with the Ministry of Defense

Patrick Sensburg, member of the Bundestag for the CDU and chairman of the Association of Reservists of the German Armed Forces, told that the FDP application underlined the importance of the issue of the use of reservists over 65.

These could act as trainers in the fight against Corona, or as mediators in society, says Sensburg. He confirmed that the reservists association was already in a dialogue with the Ministry of Defense on this issue: “We are looking for a practical solution.”

This would specifically affect hundreds of Bundeswehr reservists in Germany every year. This shows a response from the federal government to a request from FDP MP Müller, which also has.

According to this, 478 active reservists were released from their services last year because they reached the maximum age of 65 years. In the three previous years it had been 363, 287 and 222. Every year almost 200,000 reservists – which by definition include every former military service and soldier in the Bundeswehr – reach the age limit for active missions.

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