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.
Here’s my first application, my second application, and the habeas corpus petition in federal court.¬† The first two applications were denied. ¬†It was only after I submitted the petition the navy granted me a discharge.
Also, I’ve added some excerpts from my testimony before the investigating officer.¬† A lot of it was very technical and procedural, so I’ve just selected excerpts where we talk about theology. ¬†Overall, I interviewed with over 30 officers about my beliefs, each for an hour or more. ¬†The interviews with the investigating officers spanned multiple days.
For the cliffsnotes version, just checkout the NYTimes article.¬† The Stupid Shall be Punished also pretty interesting.¬† Most of the news stories received tons of negative comments, but they editors were nice enough to remove them all.
Initial News Reports
The Day (local paper), article 2¬†(written in response to people who complained that I got a discharge)
San Diego Channel 10 News (includes video)
Get Religion (includes video from Fox news)
The Navy Times (just a reprint of the AP article)
MennoWeekly (an update on my status after several months)
The Stupid Shall be Punished (submariner’s blog)
The Scoop Deck (military times)