I will be sworn in as a 2LT in the Army Reserves in less than two weeks. I am slated to report to Fort Jackson, SC in June 2010 for CHBOLC (Chaplains Basic Officer Leadership Course). This is basically basic training for Chaplains. Approximately 90 days I will be away from my wife and my two sons. The longest I have been away from Natasha in the last ten years is about a month and a half while I was in Japan for work. Colin at the time was so young he barely remembers. Carson wasn't even born then. It will be difficult but I keep in my mind if the Lord leads you to it, He will see you through it. I have been called by God to serve as a Chaplain in the Army. I wanted to start this blog so my family and friends will be able to keep up with my adventures. Many members of our church ask about what the next step will be and I enjoy talking to them about it. This will allow not only my family but also my extended family at church to see the training I am going through once I actually get there. Second reason for starting this blog was to possibly help out potential candidates or anyone thinking of looking into the Army Chaplaincy. I found so much information on other Chaplains and Chaplains Candidate blogs when first beginning the application process that I thought I would also share my experiences. The application process can be quite long, it took me a year to get to the point I am today. It doesn't take everyone this long, but keep in mind it will definitely take several months. I wanted to provide a brief outline of the steps I took to get here. So here it is in steps:
Step 1 - I enrolled full-time in Liberty University's Distance Learning Program pursuing my Master of Divinity degree. God definitely had a hand in this process seeing how smoothly the initial enrollment process went.
Step 2 - Talk to a recruiter. Most of the local recruiting offices you will enter are set up to recruit only enlisted men, not officers and certainly not Chaplains! I met with a recruiter in Bowling Green, KY and he had no idea what to tell me so he showed me the Chaplains link on the Army website. Needless to say I had already read over that page several times. But he didn't give up. He got on the phone and began to call various offices, even calling an office out West that would still be open because it was on Pacific time. He got in touch with someone there who gave him another phone number of the office he would need to contact. This got the ball rolling, or so I thought. The ball seemed to roll like a bowling ball tossed by a toddler! Things went a little slower for me because I had some extra pounds to drop.
Step 3 - You will need to have Ecclesiastical endorsement from your churches endorsing body. Mine was the North American Mission Board. Contact them or visit the website, http://www.namb.net/. This was a somewhat lengthy process with all of the question that were required to be answered. Several question about who you are, were you went to school, your current job, ministry experience and many questions about your religious beliefs. Once you complete this and there are no issues the NAMB will send you a letter stating you have been endorsed by them.
Step 4 - Now you can apply for the Army Chaplaincy program. Complete the Army application and submit it to your recruiter. Once everything is in order you will go to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station).
Step 5 - MEPS will determine if you are healthy enough to enter the military and if you pass height / weight standards or if you do not fit into the correct weight category for your height you will need to take the tape test. Your body fat will be measured and the maximum allowable for someone going in as an officer is 24%. This process takes the better half of a day to complete but it is not too bad. You will meet all kinds of people there! The 18 year old guys there will definitely keep you entertained.
Step 6 - "You weigh too much!" WHAT? I had to drop another 10 to 15 pounds and return to MEPS in 3 months. Another set back in an already long process.
Step 7 - Return to MEPS and finally pass.
Step 8 - Now the military application will go before the Chaplains Board. Your recruiter will contact you to let you know if you have been accepted into the candidate program.
Step 9 - You have to wait another 30 to 60 days to receive your Oath of Office, which I have just received.
Step 10 - Off to CHBOLC!
It's really not too bad. The recruiter who worked with me was great. He kept me informed of all the steps I needed to take and all the results of each step. It was time consuming but when you think about what you are working towards, serving God and your country, the reward far outweighs the work it took to get there.
I will add some pics after my Oath of Office ceremony at church.