A little later this month, I will be able to celebrate the 5th anniversary of my enlistment in the military. It has been an incredible journey so far, but until recently there was part of it that I questioned why I put myself through it.
Since 2004 I have known that I was called to be a Chaplain in the Army. At that point the question in my mind was, “What is the best way to get there?” I thought about it, prayed about it, talked extensively about it with my girlfriend (who is now my wife) and I felt that going through OCS would be a valuable experience (even though I knew I would get direct commissioned), plus it would get me a commission before I even became a Chaplain Candidate.
In March of 2005 I started OCS. I know there are a lot of Active Duty people who poke fun at the Guard (much of it deserved), but the OCS program I went through was top notch. The training and the instructors were just as good and professional as anything I have seen military wide. The OCS program was set up so that we would drill one weekend a month for 15 months, with two AT periods. This all seemed good. As the program progressed, more and more responsibility for planning and executing drill was placed on the Candidates. We had to do all the planning, make all the proper requests for our needs through the proper authorities in the proper format, and all communication was done be email or phone during the month. After a year in the program, and the program gradually consuming more and more of my time, I realized something had to give. I could either finish out the OCS program and I would most like fail several of my classes or drop OCS to focus on school. OCS had come to take up so much time that my grades had fallen to critical levels in some of my classes.
I prayed long and hard about the decision to quit. I had already come so far. The best part of the program was ahead. Still, I had to remember my ultimate calling; Chaplaincy. Staying in the program would undoubtedly have hurt the vital academic prerequisite to become a Chaplain. So, I dropped the program.
Since I started the Chaplain Candidate program I have quickly come to realize that my time in OCS was not wasted, nor was going through the program a mistake. Because I did OCS I learned how to write OPORD’s, WARNO’s, FRAGO’s, and Supply Requests. I learned how to lead Drill and Ceremony, conduct a PT test, perform Reveille and Retreat, and design an SOP. Because of OCS I became more confident in my Land Navigation skills ( we did day and night courses by ourselves), I learned that I could swim in my full uniform with boots, LBE, and a weapon, and I learned that as a leader you can’t do it all yourself and you have to trust those around you to perform their mission.
Because of my experiences in OCS, I have been able to help some of my fellow Candidates learn some things about the Army that they did not know before.
It truly is amazing how God is using something that I considered to be a failed venture on my part, as a valuable learning experience and tool for both myself and my fellow Candidates.