Morality of dropping from DEP

For those of you unfamiliar with army enlistments, you go to a processing station called MEPS. If everything goes smoothly, you sign a contract that ensures when you ship out (could be weeks or months in the future). You also swear an oath. This puts you in delayed entry program, or DEP. Then, when that ship date you agreed upon arrives, you go back to MEPS, and swear the oath a second time.

The contract has wording which claims to be binding, and has intimidating words to make you think you have no choice. However, the actual laws in place and how these laws are carried out pretty much nullify that, and if you change your mind in DEP, they let you go (nobody has been prosecuted or forced to go in nearly thirty years). It’s the second oath that’s legally binding (that’s when rules of AWOL and dessertion apply). However, dropping out does mean you wasted people’s time, since it takes a lot of paperwork to get you through.

Now, I’ve already signed into DEP. I was in an emotional state, and I was kinda rushed into making a decision without thinking. I was basically running away from my problems. I’m not so sure I’m fit to join the army anymore or if it’s good for me to sign up. I’m set to go in a month, and I’m still batting it back and forth, time is running out. Legally, I’m pretty sure I’d be OK, even if my recruiter won’t like it. But what about morally? Part of the oath you take involves swearing to God that you’ll defend the Consitution, etc. Would it be a really bad sin to go back on an oath sworn to God?

Just as the Church can dispense from vows made before itself, so too can the state make oaths taken before itself nonbinding.

Couple of things here. First, there are several ways to get out of your enlistment. You need to consult with someone in the military to discuss it if that is what you finally decide to do.

I see another concern here though and that is the why you enlisted. You say that you were “running away from my problems.” That needs to be addressed. Escaping problems is not a good reason to join the military. You’d be trading one set of problems for another.

If you are not suited to the military you will not do well. On the other hand, I have seen people join the military and it helped them to mature. I cannot, via this forum, know your situation well enough to predict how you would do.

If you need time to sort this all out, then perhaps you could talk with the military to delay your entry on to active duty. Perhaps you could talk with a priest concerning all of your backgorund, the reason you enlisted, etc… At some point, however, you will have to make a decision. It is not right to keep the military hanging like this.

As far as morally, without knowing all of the details, it would be hard to say. It does not seem to me that you enlisted with the intent to then get out of the enlistment. It sounds to me that you are confused. Morally it would be for a priest to decide what sin, if any, you commited.

I will keep you in my prayers.

Shalom

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