0630 (6:30am for the civilian in you) Tuesday morning Angela and I loaded up the kids and headed to Jacksonville for my commissioning ceremony. The last piece of a very long application process. We arrived at Naval Recruiting Command around 0900 just in time to “hurry up and wait.” I love that motto! To be fair we did arrive a bit early. But we would still wind up waiting over an hour for everything to get said and done. Little did I know the paper work involve in the actual commissioning wold take up most of that time. If its one thing the Navy does well it’s kill trees!
There’s this Navy motto that goes like this
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of all who threaten it.
Who knew trees were so diabolical.
So you know when you buy a house or say a car you feel like your signing your life away with all the paperwork? I really did sign my life away on Tuesday and its not quite the same thing. In spite of the mounds of paperwork associated with commissioning there was no apprehension, no reservation on my part. I’ve purchased both a car and a house previously and naturally even with a purchase your comfortable with there is that last minute of doubt right before you put your John Hancock on the line (you know what I’m talking about – the fear of commitment to such a large chunk of Money) – None of that here; I was at complete peace even knowing that the only way to get my life “back” at this point is for my resignation to be accepted.
So for the next 8 years – Uncle Sam owns me (minimum 3 years active, 5 inactive reserve) And that precisely is what this past year and half was all about, So I go in with eyes wide open anxious for the next step.
Basically it closes any legal loopholes in the contract that your signing. Remember you are signing your life away. As a Chaplain on my CARE board put it. Your signing a blank check, the Navy can exact whatever costs they need from you up to and including your life if necessary. If you’ve made it to this point you are well aware of everything you’ll be signing and really all of this information is readily available on the web.
Oath of Office: The form that actually gets you in the Navy – never loose it. (Its the equivalent of your SS card in importance)
Service Agreement: Essentially what you’ve agreed to serve as in the Navy. I.E. Mine is a service agreement for chaplaincy.
Report of Home of Record: Your residence at time of commissioning.
Restriction on Personal Conduct: What not to do – in essence stop with the stupid.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Statement of Understanding: As an officer if you are ever found positive of drugs – your separated.
Observances of the Religious Faith Practice: You have the right to free expression of religion when it can be granted.
Explanation of Discharges: The types of discharges (with honors, dishonorable etc.)
Direct Deposit Acknowledgment: You agree to have your pay directly deposited for as long as you serve.
Navy Physical Readiness Program: Stay fit stay trim.
Dependency Application: Pretty straight forward, who is coming with you.
DEERS Enrollment: Insurance and Tricare enrollment for all adults in the family.
Life Insurance Election: If you elect for the standard life insurance policy this is where you list beneficiaries.
Code of Conduct: What you should and should not do in relations to the enemy and in times of war.
Chaplain Felder (CDR) arrived at about 0930 in summer whites which I might add look very sharp (Angela loves the idea of me in a uniform – as do I). We expected at this point for the commissioning to get underway and done with inside of 5 minutes – my oath is pretty straight forward and short. Not so much today. Apparently NRC Jacksonville had inspections that day and so the office was in some form of organized chaos and decided that it would be a great idea for half the personnel station there to attend and witness my commissioning. So about 45 minutes later I’m fumbling to come to attention (something I might add I have no clue how to do). And there, before 15 – 20 people I swore an oath to defend and protect everything the constitution of our great nation stands for.
United States Uniformed Services Oath of Office
I, Philip David Carson, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
And here’s an interesting tidbit concerning the difference between the officer oath and the enlisted oath: ”One notable difference between the officer and enlisted oaths is that the oath taken by officers does not include any provision to obey orders; while enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey lawful orders, officers in the service of the United States are bound by this oath to disobey any order that violates the Constitution of the United States.”1
The oath for me goes far deeper then that however – it is an oath to abide by the dictates of my Lord in obedience of His call. A call that finds me in the service of the men and women who put themselves in harms way for the freedoms we take for granted every moment of every day. In as plain English as I can muster, here is that call: To go where-ever He leads and do what-ever He say no matter the cost.
And in that surrender lies peace, and as hard as it is to fathom for many on the outside looking in something else lingers at the center of that surrendering.
In His Grips
Chaplain Carson (Ltjg)
Marjorie Cohn; Kathleen Gilberd (2009), Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent, PoliPointPress, p. 16, ISBN 9780981576923, http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=umUbGDYA29UC ;
Stjepan G. Meštrović (2008), Rules of Engagement?: A Social Anatomy of an American War Crime Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq, Algora Publishing, p. 7, ISBN 9780875866727, http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=NffFKfVotVAC .