Fitness Test Could Force War Veterans Out of Jobs

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Fitness Test Could Force War Veterans Out of JobsFitness Test Could Force War Veterans Out of Jobs
by Shelby Sebens

Carl Sisco is personally insulted by the US Army’s decision to start requiring a physical agility test for all guards who serve the nation’s 67 Army installations.

He and other military vets working as guards at the Sunny Point cargo terminal near Southport say the Army is trying to squeeze them out of their jobs. Some are disabled vets and likely couldn’t run fast enough to meet the new rules.

In late September 2006, the Army published a revision to the Army Regulation 190-56 that added the annual physical agility test for the guards. It’s an effort to “ensure police and security guard employees are physically capable of performing their work. “ Army spokesman Dave Foster said in an email. But Sisco  argues the test is unnecessarily rigorous and does not have a clause built in for age or disability…

     

The public information officer at Sunny Point, the only person authorized to talk about the subject, wasn’t available Wednesday or Thursday to discuss it but the Army provided details of the regulation change via Foster’s email.

“The standards were reviewed by the US Army’s office of the Surgeon General who confirmed a correlation with the minimum requirements to perform law enforcement and security tasks,” the message says.  The requirements came from Cooper Institute physical fitness standards, which it says are nationally recognized and accepted by law enforcement agencies.

But guards are not police officers, Sisco argued. They can detain trespassers and wait for the local authorities. He also said the job can be physical, but most of the time the guards are driving instead of running.

Sisco has been at Sunny Point since retiring in 2000, with the exception of leaving for two years to work for the Transportation Security Administration.

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He is a 20-year military veteran. He served in the Marines and the Air Force Reserve with a long list of service, including missions to conflict areas.

Unlike some of his coworkers, Sisco is not on disability. But he did injure himself on the job in December during one of the base’s annual exercises designed to ensure quality service. For security reasons, Sisco could not reveal exactly what he was doing the night he was injured, but he says he shattered his ankle in a fall from a ladder.

Rather than take the doctor recommended 6-12 months of rest, Sisco was back at work on light duty in four months.

“If that doesn’t say professional, I don’t know what does. I sure could’ve milked it for another couple of months if I wanted to,“ he said.

No one at Sunny Point has taken the physical agility test yet, Golden said.

According to Foster’s email, new hires that can’t pass the test have three months to retake it. Current guards have until September- a year after the rule was imposed- to pass the test.

The Army’s email is unclear about whether failure to pass the test means automatic dismissal, but Sisco fears he would be out of a good job.

“I wouldn’t be able to find a job making what I make out there,” he said, noting he is at the top of his pay scale making $36,500 a year before taxes.


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