National guard duties

Hello everyone!

I am somewhat thinking of joining the National Guard, however I am unsure if this will harm me spiritually as they have to “drill” one weekend a month and I would be unable to keep Sunday as a day of rest and there is a possibility of missing Mass.

Interested on hearing your thoughts!

There is no problem missing Mass because of military service. Members of the armed forces do a necessary job that contributes to national security. It would be the same as if you decided to become a doctor, dentist, nurse, police officer, prison officer, social worker, etc. All these people have to work weekends healing people and keeping them safe. It’s the same for a National Guardsman. Somebody has to keep the nation safe while people are at church on Sunday. Also, couldn’t you probably fit in a vigil Mass on Saturday evening or a Mass at some time on Sunday - before of after the drill? I guess the National Guard has Catholic chaplains.

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I’ve never been in the Guard, but through the years I remember seeing troops in their fatigues at parish masses on Sunday while they were attending drill. Also, there are some Guard units with chaplains although with the shortage of priests perhaps this has gone by the wayside.

In any event, if it is impossible for you to attend mass on Sunday while at drill, your obligation does not exist for that Sunday. The Church does not demand the impossible.

Thank you for your willingness to serve.

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Please note that this is based on my personal experience in the Army National Guard some years ago, so things may have changed and it does not necessarily apply to Air National Guard at all.

Very often the entire weekend from early Saturday through late afternoon Sunday is fully scheduled, so it may be possible to find a Mass to attend but I wouldn’t count on being able to take the time every weekend. And while there are chaplains, they usually are only assigned at Battalion level or higher and I have no idea what proportion of chaplains are Catholic. But as has been said before, this sort of service is generally considered a valid reason for missing Mass. If in doubt, ask your pastor.

There are plenty of good Catholics in the National Guard, speak with your recruiter and ask if you can speak to an officer of whatever unit you might end up in about before signing papers.

Also, make sure you think long and hard about what you want to do. Be very attentive to what you’re told and read everything before you sign anything. Find someone who is serving or who has served who can help you navigate the process so you don’t get taken advantage of.

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Depending on the size of the unit they might have chaplain services. I was in the Air National Guard for 20 years. My unit was on a fairly large base that had a chaplain contingent. They held Protestant and Catholic services every Sunday morning and our unit commander let anyone interested attend. Smaller locations might not have that option. Joining the Guard isn’t like active duty though. Typically, you’ll know exactly which unit and section you’ll be working in ahead of time. You should be able to visit and talk to the folks in charge before you sign up. Ask your recruiter about it.

Check with the Archdiocese for the Military Services ( https://www.milarch.org ). If anyone has dealt with this issue, it would be them.

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Some people have to serve in the military for the general protection of the populace. That being said in the United States, it is an all volunteer military. That doesn’t specifically mean they wanted to be anything more than part time guardsmen and women though. If you wouldn’t go oversees to war, dont enlist.

Before joining the Guard please consider the likelihood you will be deployed so much and so often you may as well just go active duty.

The recruiter who was recruiting me was Catholic in fact.

As much as I support the U.S. military and the people in it, this is key.

If it’s not in writing, it’s not binding.

If the recruiter says you’ll be doing this or you won’t be sent to this country, get it in writing or it doesn’t count.

And getting back to the original question, I’m pretty sure that if you were deployed somewhere and there was no opportunity to attend Mass, the Lord would understand.

Good luck.

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