Joining the American military

I was wondering what Catholics should be aware of in joining the military.

Even if you weren’t in infantry, would it be supporting an unjust war?

Servus mariae, I was in the U.S.Army. So I can speak to that branch.

The military is NOT a Catholic institution. Temptations will be everywhere. There are Chaplains available and some of them are Catholic priest. Most of mine seemed to be baptist which didn’t workout so well. But otherwise it depends on your job. If you end up anywhere near combat arms. You can expect to be near combat. You’ll have to make your own peace with that. I feel the war are terror is just. But some people don’t. if you don’t, pick another type of service. Missionary, or the peace corps perhaps.

I was ordered to a baptist service one time when I was caught loafing around the barracks on a sunday. (my own fault) But, for the most part, you’ll be left to follow your own spiritual path. Again, depending on your job. When your off duty you have the right to free association. So, you can befriend other catholics around your post or in town. You’ll be surprised at the number of good people who live around a post. As well as the number of bad. But, it’s a great chance to meet a variety of people. Both stateside and overseas. So, if you are strong in your faith. It could be a vary rewarding experience.

Sorry Servus Mariae, I was just responding to your first post.

I was in the Army in the early 90’s, one of the best decisions of my life, wouldn’t change it one bit.

But, beware, you can be surrounded by others with lower morals than you, and temptation is around every corner, unless you are in the field. I was never deployed so, but it can be very boring at times. Good luck with your decision, and God bless…

What kind of temptation?

I was not in the military, but from the stories I’ve heard from my buddy as well as pictures I have seen, you can expect to be confronted with many temptations–especially in a place with so many young men (and women, but few women) are gathered together.

I’d say that sexual temptation is a big one, as well as the temptation to get drunk…
I’m sure someone with actual experience in the military can elaborate…

Whether or not you would be willing to serve in a war that does not meet the Catholic just war criteria.

Oh, and first, of course, you should decide if you’re a pacifist or not…are you willing to kill someone? Under what circumstances?

After reflecting on those questions, then think how you would respond if you were in the military and the U.S. went to war in an unjust (by Catholic tradition, as the Iraq war for example) situation. Could you serve with integrity in those circumstances? And as has been noted, it really shouldn’t matter what your specific role is, whether you’re on the “front line” or in a support role, these are the questions you should reflect and pray on imho (as a Navy veteran). When you’re in the military, you are not in charge of decisions. You really don’t have the option to selectively “opt out” if the U.S. were to engage in an action that you (or the Catholic Church) considered immoral. Or, rather, you do have the option to “opt out” but you would be subject to the legal military consequences.

Best wishes.

I spent 4 years in the USN back in the 1970’s, and I made it through just fine. Yes, there was temptation EVERYWHERE, but I made it quite clear, to all concerned, that I was nice CATHOLIC girl and would NOT be engaging in certain off duty activities. The main reason to join the military is to protect and defend America, and the process involves following orders, going where you are sent to go and doing what you are told to do. You do not get to make the call if a war is just or not.

There is an old saying; “A person who eats meat is morally equivalent with a butcher”. Unless you are a pacifist, and actively support pacifism, any one in this country bears some responsablity for the actions of the military and their political superiors in the event of an unjust war. This applies also to those in the military and being a Chaplain or medic or doctor does not change this. All these jobs help the military with its mission.

Having said that, determining whether a war is just or unjust is difficult, even for those with access to the required info. The Church tasks national leadership with determination of just war and much of the data may be classified so that it is unavailable to most people. I am not sure that the Church has ever declared a war unjust and, While I am not a theologian, am not sure they can or would. “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

For the service person it is simple however. If it is a legal order per military law, you obey. If that is an issue, the military is not the job for you.

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