My CO Discharge

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Below is the text of a document I prepared when filing for conscientious objector status to leave the navy.

I joined the Navy because I wanted to serve my country. My religious beliefs no longer allow me to kill, but I still want to serve. Service, in fact, is an integral part of my beliefs. My country has given me a lot. I value the ideas of freedom and democracy. I want to give everything I have to my country and the ideals for which it stands. Ideally, I would serve in a capacity that maximizes the peace and welfare of the United States, but minimizes my contribution to war. I believe these goals are not mutually exclusive. This document explores how well my service options meet these goals, both inside and outside the military. This will explain my decision not to apply for noncombatant (1-A-0) status. Read the rest of this entry »

After almost seven years in the navy, I was discharged as a conscientious objector in February 2011.  There’s no one thing I can point out as being the the last straw that made me become a pacifist.  Instead, it was a very gradual process.  Jesus kept pulling at my heart, and ultimately I had to do what he asked.  I applied twice for discharge, was denied twice, and had to go to federal court before my discharge was granted.  The official record for my case is over 1000 pages.  I’m posting some of that here that others might find helpful.

I’m posting the stuff here mostly so that anyone else going through the process has something to reference.  I remember when I went through the process I wished I had more stuff to help guide me.  If that’s why you’re reading this, you should call the GI Rights hotline and the Center on Conscience and War right now.  I was skeptical at first.  I thought I didn’t need help from other people, but I was wrong.  After my first application was denied, I called these organizations and they hooked me up with the ACLU to get great legal representation.  Also, make sure you find a good support group to help you out.  I spent a year at St Francis House, a pacifist community, while all this was going on.  The whole thing was a pretty miserable experience, and I wouldn’t have made it without all these people.

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In February 2011 I was discharged as a conscientious objector after 7 years in the Navy.  Part of the conscientious objector process is an interview with an investigating officer.  His job is to assess the “depth and sincerity” of the applicant’s beliefs.  The interview spanned three days and covered both technical legal points and broad theological concepts.  Here is a longish excerpt where we talk about the development of my beliefs as a conscientious objector.

The investigating officer is in bold, and I am in plain text. Read the rest of this entry »

In February 2011 I was discharged as a conscientious objector after 7 years in the Navy.  Part of the conscientious objector process is an interview with an investigating officer.  His job is to assess the “depth and sincerity” of the applicant’s beliefs.  My interview spanned three days and covered both technical legal points and broad theological concepts.  Here is a short excerpt where we talk about how I interpret the bible, especially with regard to the old testament’s apparent violence.

The investigating officer is in bold, and I am in plain text.

Read the rest of this entry »

In February 2011 I was discharged as a conscientious objector after 7 years in the Navy.  Part of the conscientious objector process is an interview with an investigating officer.  His job is to assess the “depth and sincerity” of the applicant’s beliefs.  My interview spanned three days and covered both technical legal points and broad theological concepts.  Here is a short excerpt where we talk about the “Jesus Revolution” and the sermon on the mount.

The investigating officer is in bold, and I am in plain text. Read the rest of this entry »

In February 2011 I was discharged as a conscientious objector after 7 years in the Navy.  Part of the conscientious objector process is an interview with an investigating officer.  His job is to assess the “depth and sincerity” of the applicant’s beliefs.  My interview spanned three days and covered both technical legal points and broad theological concepts.  Here is a short excerpt where we talk about why I prefer to describe myself as “pro-peace” rather than “anti-war.”

The investigating officer is in bold, and I am in plain text.

Read the rest of this entry »

In February 2011 I was discharged as a conscientious objector after 7 years in the Navy.  Part of the conscientious objector process is an interview with an investigating officer.  His job is to assess the “depth and sincerity” of the applicant’s beliefs.  My interview spanned three days and covered both technical legal points and broad theological concepts.  Here is a short excerpt where we talk about some of the ways nonviolence impacts my interaction with the state outside of a military context.

The investigating officer is in bold, and I am in plain text.

Read the rest of this entry »

In February 2011 I was discharged as a conscientious objector after 7 years in the Navy.  Part of the conscientious objector process is an interview with an investigating officer.  His job is to assess the “depth and sincerity” of the applicant’s beliefs.  My interview spanned three days and covered both technical legal points and broad theological concepts.  Here is a short excerpt where I we talk about the role of “salvation,” and how it led to my pacifist convictions.

The investigating officer is in bold, and I am in plain text.

Read the rest of this entry »