My conscientious objector discharge

posted on 2012-06-28

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.  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.

Interesting Files

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.

The development of my beliefs

How I interpret the bible, especially the old testament

The Jesus revolution

Why I call myself “pro-peace” rather than “anti-war”

How nonviolence affects my interaction with the government

The meaning of salvation

News Coverage

For the cliffsnotes version, just checkout the NYTimes article.  Most of the news stories received tons of negative comments, but they editors were nice enough to remove them all.

initial news reports

The NY Times

The Courant (local paper)

The Day (local paper), article 1

The Day (local paper), article 2 (written in response to people who complained that I got a discharge)

The Day (local paper), op-ed in my support

The Day (local paper), op-ed against me

San Diego Channel 10 News (includes video)

Get Religion (includes video from Fox news)

Christian Post

The Navy Times (just a reprint of the AP article)

news updates

MennoWeekly (an update on my status after several months)

blog posts

ACLU’s report on the initial filing of my case

ACLU final report

The Stupid Shall be Punished (an unofficial submarine commnuity blog has their reaction to my discharge)

The Scoop Deck (this is a semiofficial publication from the military with their reaction to my discharge

Religion and Public Life