A reader has a question

She wonders…

whether we should encourage our son to accept an Air Force ROTC scholarship or not. I am an Army veteran (ROTC), but with no combat experience, my husband is civilian, my dad and bros were Air Force enlisted, my other brother is still in the Army. I have military friends, mostly Navy, mostly officers, some still in, who are at least on the fence or vehemently against encouraging their own children to go into the military. One comment was that enlisted you could probably keep your head down and not encounter any unusual tyhpes of discrimination or orders to go against the Faith, but that officers will have more difficulty. My husband thinks that all of our children in all walks of life are going to have to fight through this one way or another, but is also on the fence about whether to encourage or discourage. I would love to know what some of your followers would say, particularly prior-service/active duty. It would be a great opportunity and honor for him, but OTOH is our country so far gone that is is no longer an honor and indeed wrong to serve in this way.

I’m not in the military myself and will leave it to my military readers respond. For what it’s worth, while I think it an ominous straw in the wind that the Administration is consulting with obvious and naked anti-Christian bigot like Mikey Weinstein, I would also be cautious of the hysterics fomented by outfits like World Nut Daily, the Blaze, and Breitbart, who are prominent outlets for the Right Wing Noise Machine and who specialize in whipping people into frenzies of fear and anger at the drop of a hat. This nine day wonder seems to not have even lasted nine days before the RWNM moved on THIS HUGELY IMPORTANT THING WE MUST ALL PANIC ABOUT RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND!!! to Benghazi and the IRS, dropping it like it never happened. So while it’s smart to assume that a post-Christian culture is probably going to eventually be reflected by a post-Christian military culture, I would not immediately assume that the shift is that imminent or draconian (or inevitable). Of all the many subculture of our nation, I would say that the military, with its tendency to attract people who put honor, sacrifice, courage, and service to other at a high premium, remains a rich mission field for the gospel.

Just my 2 cents. I cede the floor to my military readers.

  • Paxton Reis

    On the topic of pacifism and military
    service, I read a comment (from Chesterton maybe?) that noted Jesus seemed to
    have a fondness of those who served in the military. The reference was wrt to
    Jesus’ healing of the Centurion’s servant.

    No judgement of the man’s position or duties. Yes,
    the military is a rich field for the Gospel.

    • Mike

      “I read a comment (from Chesterton maybe?) that noted Jesus seemed to
      have a fondness of those who served in the military.”

      Just to give the Chesterton reference:

      “…[Christ] seems to have been rather fond of Roman soldiers.”

      -”The Everlasting Man”

  • Skylarke

    I’m a retired USAF Master Sergeant. I’m also a devout Catholic and don’t want to see the military ceded to the secular liberals. As an officer, her son would have more influence on how policy is implemented and enforced. Disciplinary action may be dispensed at the discretion of an individual’s commander. Non-judicial action can range from verbal counseling to an Article 15. The type of discipline administered lies in the hands of the commander. I don’t think her son will have to worry much about this secular liberal crap if he watches what he says and who he says it to. We need sound Christian officers to help lead the lost sheep of our secular society. I would encourage her son to become one of these sorely needed officers.

  • Patrick

    I would urge my child to go into just about any occupation other than the US military. Anymore, the US empire is a bloodthirsty immoral empire and your child may very well be called upon to murder innocents who were unfortunately enough to be born in a country that the Empire has its sights on. And like many out there, he may just start to enjoy it.

  • Laura

    Personal info: I entered the Army on an ROTC scholarship over my parents’ objections, stayed 20 years, and retired last year.

    As
    a general observation: lay people have a specific vocation to witness
    to Christ in the world as-it-is. That vocation comes with the necessary
    graces to do so in a heroic, even saintly, way, if the layperson
    accepts what is given. HOWEVER, our vocations are extremely specific to
    ourselves– mine was to be an Army officer, and now an electrical
    engineer, but I have no doubt that I would have made a terrible
    politician, or physician, or judge. I simply do not have the graces and
    faculties needed to do those jobs without crumbling under the pressure
    of this fallen world. So, searching out one’s God-given vocation is of
    capital importance in anyone’s life. No place in the world is “safe”
    for an adult with a child’s faith, and no place in the world is “unsafe”
    for a Christian living out his true vocation. Also, your vocation is
    not your children’s vocation– their choices must be different than
    yours, as their strengths and weaknesses are different, and the world
    has changed since you were starting out too. My parents thought that joining the Army would be a disaster for me… but they were wrong.

    Specifically about this young man: I would suggest that his parents neither encourage nor discourage ROTC. Instead,
    they should be totally clear that this is a decision that he needs to
    take on his own, as the adult man he is now. I’m 100% certain there are
    depths and details in him that his parents have never seen, and they
    should let him be the man he is, and become the man he will become–
    including making “mistakes” and taking different decisions than they
    would have. They can help him by praying and fasting on his behalf, to come to a good understanding of what his next step should be. (And he’ll work out his vocation one step at a time, like all of us.) And, pray to receive the final grace of parenthood– that of transitioning to a positive, loving, adult-to-adult relationship with your children.

  • Momof11

    I think it would be interesting to see a demographic of the religions of thoseserving in the military,as well as as police officers, and firefighters. I have long suspected that Christians and Catholics in particular seem to be attracted to professions of service.

  • Stu

    I am fifth generation Naval Officer, recently retired. It was my dream since age six to be a Naval Aviator like my grandfather and that is exactly what I did. I don’t regret my service one bit. I found adventure, challenge, and service. I found brothers that I didn’t know I had. It made me a better person.

    But now is different.

    Things have changed and continue to do so. The military is infected with political correctness and bizarre fascination with gender-norming. And the very fact that in the military we “follow orders,” the battle is over. Short term, it will continue to become a place that just isn’t good for your soul. Long term, it has the potential of becoming a godless and armed force which is a recipe for disaster.

    So I have sadly guided my sons not to enter the military (I always told my daughters to stay away as it has never been a place for women except in very limited roles). If the country is ever in true need, like WW2 magnitude, then they can then enter and fight. But to enter now is just putting your soul at
    risk.

    • Thomas

      If you think the military is too PC then change it….from the inside not the outside. Change must come from within the military. And to enter the military is to put your soul at risk is a ridiculous statement.

      • Stu

        You aren’t going to change it from within. The military is obedient and follows orders. End of story. Look, I served and was a “mouthy” as they come in terms of leadership style. I have had no problem confronting boneheaded superiors in public or telling a Flag Officer openly that he was being “disingenuous.” And I willingly took the heat. I can go on but really don’t feel the need to justify my service to you which was always focused on those whom I was given charge.

        The PC mafia is in control at the highest ranks and those who want to be in those ranks must also be part of the PC mindset. The only thing that is going to change it is a real war where we are threatened. Only then will real leaders be able to send the women back to the rear echelons and actually fight to win.

        Increasingly the environment within is anti-Christian and anti-morality. Any whiff of morality based thought (unless it applies to one of the protected classes) is frowned upon. ” Friggin in the Riggin” is rampant in the ship and on the field and for a youngster that can be a tough place to be. So yes, in today’s military you are putting your soul at risk.

        • Tom

          I disagree and would ask you not to be so cynical and pessimistic. If you want change you have to confront it head on. You are only putting your soul at risk if you surrender to the PC and allow it to happen. Be strong and remember the blood of martyrs (or ruined careers) is the seed of the Church. Don’t run away from evil.

          • Stu

            Neither cynical nor pessimistic. Just a realist. I know what it’s like on the inside, having only recently retired. It’s not a matter of “surrendering” but rather picking your battles wisely.

      • Barfly_Kokhba

        No, what is ridiculous is mindless, nationalist boosterism that refuses to acknowledge the reality of others’ feelings and experiences, especially when coming from someone like Stu who is clearly intelligent, informed, and accomplished.

        I did four years as an enlisted Naval maintainer–the opposite end of the spectrum from Stu’s experience as a pilot and officer–and Stu is 100% correct in his assessment as far as I’m concerned. I wish I could have made a career out of the military. I would have been a lot better off, materially, if I had stuck it out. I walked away heartbroken.

        But it’s impossible to regret the decision, because what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?

  • Thomas

    I would take the scholarship. The US Military is a great organization that lives by a very strong set of values. If the concern is about the secularism in the military I would not run from the problem. I would make the fixes from the inside. I served for over 30 years and was very active in the Catholic Church ( Parish President etc) and never received any push back due to my faith. As a commander in peacetime and wartime I was open about my faith hopefully by my actions and deeds. Also, the American Military is the people’s military and is a representative sample of our society and we will not tolerate the banishment of religion and faith. Your son can be a great witness for Christ while serving his Nation…(OBTW The US military is NOT a blood thirsty organization; very offensive.)

  • kirthigdon

    When my son joined the military, I gave no more than a mild warning about the dangers of the profession and the likelihood that the US would become involved in a war during his term of service. (I was a prophet three times over on that one.) I’d certainly give much stronger warnings now.

    The military has now become a combination of a killer elite (spec ops and sniper cult) and a rank-and-file doomed to high levels of maiming, disfigurement, rape and PTSD. The takeover of the feminists and sodomites particularly assures a high level of rape and other sexual assault that nothing will be done about. Worse yet, the purpose of the military is to impose these values (summarized as “democracy, whiskey, sexy”) on the rest of the world. Defense? The US military specializes in attacking the defenseless. It boasts of the ability to kill thousands in foreign countries with minimal to no casualties as long as no occupation is attempted.

    While many if not most of military jobs are simply technical and support, they are the moral equivalent of technical support jobs at an abortion mill. I could only see them justified if used for under cover evangelization or trying to relieve cruel conditions and practices. Even then, what happens when the Christian receives an order to commit a mortal sin?

    Kirt Higdon

    • kmk

      The Christian refuses, like St Martin of Tours or a host of others, and lets the chips fall.

      Wow, military tech jobs are the moral equivalent of tech support jobs at an abortion mill? You really stand behind this? and the US Military does nothing whatsoever to aid its own citizens and others? The US military specializes in attacking the defenseless?

      There have been some well-balanced, thoughtful “no” answers in the comments so far, and all have been very helpful, but this is over-the-top, don’t you think?

    • kenofken

      “The takeover of the feminists and sodomites particularly assures a high level of rape and other sexual assault that nothing will be done about. “……

      How, exactly, does that work? Are feminists advocating a rape culture? Are women troops raping themselves? Are the gay men, aka “sodomites” suddenly committing acts with women that most of them didn’t even like to think of in civilian life? Are the red-blooded hetero Christian men just so verklempt over the presence of women and sodomites that the poor dears have no way to self-soothe but rape? Help us follow this thread of logic.

    • Thomas

      Why do you put everyone into the same pot? This statement is somewhat hysterical wouldn’t you say?

  • Joachim Licameli

    You are ideologically impure unless you use “persibling.” ;)

  • kenofken

    This purported “war on Christians” in the military is a manufactured controversy engineered by culture war conservatives to rile their own partisans, nothing more. What’s happening on the ground is that base and branch-level command is increasingly making a good-faith effort to stop aggressive evangelizing done through abuse of rank which had been going on for years.

    They’re enforcing nothing more draconian than the culture of respect necessary for morale AND the ideals of the Constitution which all service people pledge to defend with their lives. Weinstein, at least in his media statements and speeches to troops, is a pugnacious sort. He’s also ex-military and a trial lawyer at heart and an advocate for a cause that has little natural profile among the media. All of these things predispose toward intemperate statements.

    He’s involved in the process because he’s the top advocate in this area and he’s shown a clear interest in working with the military commanders to correct the problem rather than just attacking them for getting it wrong. It is patently absurd to say he’s on a quest to sterilize the military of Christianity or that Christians can’t get a fair shake in uniform. About 80% of those in the military identify as Christian, roughly the same percentage as civilian society.

    MOST of Weinstein’s work is helping Christians defend themselves from other Christians. While the RWNM is spinning their propaganda and playing the white knight for Christians, Weinstein is actually fighting for their ability to live and practice their faith, and he’s winning. That seems an odd vocation for an “anti-Christian bigot”. His problem isn’t with Christians. It’s with a small minority of unprofessional twits and bullies who take advantage of the legal and cultural deference recruits and cadets hold for superiors.

    This went on for decades because troops are afraid for their careers to complain and because senior command either didn’t grasp the severity of the problem or went along with organizational inertia. Weinstein litigated and shamed them into action, and for the most part, they are working hard to foster an atmosphere of respect and professionalism where religion is concerned.

    There’s no reason a Christian can’t serve in uniform. Hold your beliefs, attend your services, do your job, and don’t harass anyone. It’s really just the Golden Rule stuff your mom taught in kindergarten. The military will not and cannot sanitize itself to make sure that a Christian never hears or says anything which challenges their beliefs. They’re not going to hide all gays and atheists and pagans and crude language from your sight. The military works because it teaches young people to work alongside others who they might not understand or even like in order to accomplish something greater than themselves. Most Christians in uniform, including the Evangelicals and conservatives the RWNM pupports to represent, rise to this challenge every day.

    • The Deuce

      “Weinstein is actually fighting for their ability to live and practice their faith…”

      LOL. Yeah, right, just like “Christian minister” Barry Lynn.

      • kenofken

        If he’s anti-Christian, why is it that over 90% of his clients in this area (I’ve seen figures of 96%), Christian? Why would Christian troops keep coming to him for help and why would he keep getting them results if he wanted to wipe out their faith?

        • kmk

          Ken, I would sincerely like some links to your information–his quotation that I read a few weeks ago really seemed like a vehemently anti- Christian wayyyy out there rant, hence the skepticism on my part. I did encounter some evangelization at Ft Campbell years ago (I was Catholic, and the Christian people who spoke to me weren’t quite sure that I really knew Jesus) but was not at all coercive, not involving chain of command at all.

          • kenofken

            Here’s the actual blog entry written by Weinstein that apparently caused all or most of the hubub. It’s always best to read an original text and judge it on what it is rather than what others say it is:

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-l-weinstein/fundamentalist-christian-_b_3072651.html

            • kmk

              Ken, honestly, after reading that, I think he is unhinged. How can I agree with what he thought he was saying, which seems to be everybody tolerate everyone else and be professional about it, after that rant? It is one of the most unprofessional articles I have read from a retired military officer. I wonder what his own subordinates had to live with, if they were Christian. He kept that all buried deep or something?
              He’s afraid of the AFA, Focus on the Family, and James Dobson? And what exactly does this mean:

              “We should as a nation effusively applaud Lt. Col. Rich for his absolutely correct characterization of anti-gay religious extremist organizations as “hate groups” with no place in today’s U.S. military” –? Would that be the Catholic Church? If my son became a Catholic chaplain and refused to pretend to marry 2 men or 2 women, that would be the end of his military career, right? Will he get court martialled over it? It sound like he may as well just not apply.
              I will have my son read that; it seems like he might encounter that attitude, if this is coming from top brass and advisors. Thanks for giving me the link, so I could read it in its entirety.

              • kenofken

                I do think Weinstein makes some unfortunate choices of words that detracts from a core message that I fully agree with. He makes a distinction between people of faith and those few who are predatory and disrepectful evangelists. I think the “monster” rhetoric is unfortunate.

                To your other point, no, chaplains are not required to conduct gay marriages against their faiths, nor are they required to be silent about the beliefs and doctrines of their religions. All that is prohibited is proselytizing and harassment.

                Before anyone makes a career decision solely on Weinstein’s personal tenor, it should be noted that he is not top brass, nor is his role as an “advisor” as instrumental as the RWNM has tended to portray. So far as I have read, he is not a paid consultant or consulting on the level where the military has called him in, given him an office and a mandate to re-write policy. I think they agreed to hear him out once or twice, and the rest of the time, he has gone after command, not the other way around.

                As to Col. Jack Rich’s email to subordinates on the matter, it looked like he simply cited verbatim the hate group classifications used by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It lists AFA, and Westboro Baptist, and the Family Research Council, which had its origins with Dobson, but which is now a separate entity headed by Tony Perkins. I think an excellent argument can be made for classifying these groups as “hate groups.” It is not about their beliefs in a sacrament of marriage. They go quite beyond that into some very vicious propaganda about gay people.

                I’m a big believer in primary sources, so here is Rich’s email in its entirety, or at least what is purported to be his email by the AFA itself.

                http://action.afa.net/uploadedFiles/Activism/AFA_Action_Alerts/rich_email.pdf

                I don’t think Rich has it in for Christians or even these particular groups personally. It looks like he just sent a memo saying “remember the Army is not cool with bigotry.” and then cut and pasted the list from the SPLC, which is a pretty well respected source on such matters.

          • kenofken

            As to the 90 percent of Weinstein’s clientele being Christian, that figure was reported by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, one of Weinstein’s advisory board members.

            http://www.truth-out.org/video/item/16362-christianity-of-the-inquisition-in-the-us-army

            Wilkerson was Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff for several years. He was recruited to Weinstein’s board to replace Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL and one of the four killed at Benghazi. The MRFF is not just the Mikey Weinstein show, and it’s not a bunch of armchair chickenhawks trying to tell the military its business. These are guys who served and sometimes died for what they believed in, and they understand the ideals of the Constitution those in uniform swear to protect.

  • Barfly_Kokhba

    Being inducted into active-duty military service in 2000 was the proudest moment of my life. I was the first person in my family to serve in the military. I shed a tear at MEPS.

    Thirteen years later, I feel that I was used by a thoroughly amoral institution and then tossed aside like garbage. It makes me sick, literally.

    I regret enlisting and would not recommend it to anyone.

    Revelation 18

    • Barfly_Kokhba

      Oh, and just fyi, I was very fortunate in my orders and duty stations. I earned medals, ribbons and an honorable discharge. So it’s not sour grapes that is informing my opinion. It’s an objective assessment. To this day I am still owed over $3,000 in educational benefits that I simply never received. I PAID money out of my active-duty salary for them, but the government simply refuses to pay. No recourse.

      I could go on and on with several disgusting personal anecdotes of how this country neglects, abandons, and just outright _____s all over it veterans. But I’m trying to get better.

      Don’t do it.

  • AfroDoc

    I would say take the scholarship, but be careful not to let the institution change your core values. Some of the disciplines learned in the military can help to hone your skills as a spiritual warrior, but it’s easy to let spiritual and intellectual sloth set in… to accept the culture as-is. Keep studying the Catechism and sources of Church teaching, because you will be challenged… not usually overtly, but more often in the ways that the different world-views of your team members impact their values and decisions.

    As an Officer, you have unique opportunities to witness the faith. You have the opportunity to nip bad ideas in the bud… whether it’s the young female in the ranks who thinks she needs an abortion for the sake of her military career, the hot-head who starts ranting that all Muslims need to die, or someone who thinks the world is over because their b/f or g/f broke up with them. Sometimes, simply showing that you care and asking someone why they act/think as they do, or suggesting another course of action can have a dramatic impact.

    While overt evangelization is discouraged, strong lay leaders are needed. Lay-led prayer groups are advertised through Command Religious programs. Tactfully asking a lapsed Catholic to join you for Mass or prayer is perfectly acceptable. When an Officer takes time out of a busy day to attend a prayer service or Mass, it sends a message that prayer is important. If there isn’t a Catholic lay group, start one (The endorsement of the nearest chaplain and/or your Commanding Officer may be needed… remember the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow).

    I would say that the biggest disadvantage to military life is that sometimes you’ll lack access to the Eucharist – I’ve gone for weeks at a time on deployment. I frequently end the day with a very full prayer list, and without Christ the challenges can easily wear you down. Despite the challenges, it’s been my honor to witness Christ with young men and women who share few other values than a willingness to raise their hand and commit to something greater than themselves.

  • Elmwood

    I was in the US military for less than 5 years and can see the good and bad in it. I think the big problem now is that our ruling elites will likely continue to put the US military unjustifiably in harms way. Being that generally is always the case, I recommend staying away from those careers that participate directly in the killing of innocent people. Look at the Coast Guard or non-offensive combat roles in the Air Force. Once you swear in, you can’t get out of unjust wars for reasons of conscience–they will throw you in jail.

  • kirthigdon

    The Pentagon estimates that 13900 male military personnel and 12100 female personnel were subjected to sexual assault in the last year.

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/16/18301723-male-rape-survivors-tackle-military-assault-in-tough-guy-culture?lite

    The rate of active military suicides is also skyrocketing, exceeding combat deaths, and I doubt that rapes and suicides are entirely unrelated. Again, I would certainly strongly advise against young men and women enlisting in the thoroughly anti-Christian culture of the US military.
    Kirt Higdon

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.anderson.429 Jeff Anderson

    I’m enlisted in the Navy.
    I would not recommend enlisting in the Navy to anybody who is an easy follower. There is a culture of extreme profanity and binge drinking, sorta like college, but you’re stuck on a boat for months at a time with everyone else. It might be some time between the Sacraments.
    The military NEEDS good Christian men and women. Truly. But it needs people who are mature in their Faith and resilient (I speak as one who needs work on both) to peer pressure. Size up your son-if he is the type that is headstrong and knows what he wants in life, the military will be good for him.
    The Air Force is obviously a different beast than the Navy (their pilots aren’t as good, for instance), so take what I say with a grain of salt.


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