Waiver enables 62-year-old doctor to join New York Air Guard

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Daniel Farrell
  • New York National Guard

F.S. GABRESKI AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. - Dr. David Feldman, a 62-year old New York City gastroenterologist and private pilot, is now also Air National Guard Lt. Col. David Feldman.

"Joining the military was a lifelong dream," Feldman said. "But it was something I never had time for."

Feldman took the oath during a ceremony May 25, but getting to that point took some doing.

Feldman said he decided he had time to become a military doctor when he was 59. So he applied to join, but his application process met some challenges.

About a year later, Feldman reached out to Lt. Col. Stephen "Doc" Rush, the 106th Medical Group commander.

"I met Col. Rush and it seemed like a great fit," Feldman said. "The camaraderie was there. And the mission of the group really appealed to me."

But because Feldman was 62, Air Force rules stood between him and a uniform. Rush didn't want that to stand in the way.

"Here is an American that wants to raise his hand, wear the uniform, and we don't get doctors left and right," Rush said. "He's a civilian flight surgeon, he's a pilot, he's a good doctor."

So Rush turned to Col. Charles Killian, 106th Rescue Wing director of staff,  to find a way to make Dr. Feldman, Lt. Col. Feldman.

Killian combed through Air Force instructions on age waivers and worked with experts at the National Guard Bureau.

The accession "was a Herculean effort of superb collaboration from start to finish," Killian said.

The 106th requested an exception to policy.

Killian said after four months of coordination with Lt. Col. Jennifer Norwood at the National Guard Bureau Officer Branch, the accession of Feldman was complete.

Feldman is to complete two to three months of officer training and flight surgeon training.

"We are grateful to have someone with his immense wealth of experience join the Air National Guard to make a difference with the 106th Rescue Wing," Rush said.