Thursday, August 03, 2006


Army Times - A Tucson woman is making history as the first Arizona woman to join the Army past her 40th birthday.

Laurie-Ann Fuca, a 41-year-old mother of four, leaves for boot camp Monday — three weeks after her eldest son was sent to Iraq at age 19.

The Army recently raised its maximum recruiting age to 42.

Fuca is one of a handful of older women nationwide now following their sons or daughters into the service, said Douglas Smith, a spokesman for Army recruiting headquarters at Fort Knox, Ky.

He said more than 1,000 new soldiers, male and female, have joined the Army or Army Reserve since a series of age limit changes recently went into effect.

In Arizona, eight people 40 or older have enlisted since January but Fuca was the first woman to do so.

She plans to become the Army equivalent of a hospital paramedic and aims to help wounded troops and civilians.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the military for a long as I can remember, but I never had the opportunity because I was a full-time mom,” Fuca said.

A native of Canada who has been a legal U.S. resident for the past decade, Fuca said the desire is probably in her blood. Her father and sister served in the Canadian army and her brother still does.

Still, Fuca said her friends “laughed their heads off” when she told them of her enlistment.

“They said, ‘No way — not you!’ “ Fuca said as she prepared to pack her duffel bag for basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. “My son was like ‘You’re crazy. Moms don’t join the military,’

“I told him a lot of soldiers are somebody’s mom, and he said ‘Yeah, but you’re MY mom!”’

Fuca’s husband, a former Tucson police officer, was initially shocked at her plans.

“I said, ‘Honey, you can’t even watch a war movie on TV. What are you going to do in the Army?’” said Vinnie Fuca, 49.

But he said he has helped her get in shape with daily runs and Army recruiting supervisors claim she now outshines many recruits half her age.