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One More Step Toward USAR Chaplaincy

A while back, I authored a post sharing why I want to be an Army Chaplain.  You can find that post here.  Since writing that blog post, I have had some updates that I would like to share.

To get you up to speed, the process so far has included much paperwork, an interview with a senior Chaplain, my visit with the United Methodist Endorsing Agency, and continued contact with my Chaplain recruiter.  Let me say right here that the Chaplain recruiter's office is fantastic!  They are very helpful in explaining what needs to be done and when, and when a roadblock comes up - they find a way to help you through it.  I had a few medical pre-screen issues that needed documentation prior to continuing on in the process (something that I was fearful would disqualify me even before my actual physical!)  Fortunately, the required medical documentation was obtained from my doctor and I was granted permission to process through the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station).

One thing I need to get used to doing is writing the date in a military friendly sort of way (or else!).  On 12 December I went to the Detroit MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) for my commissioning physical.  Since I will be entering the Army Reserve as a Commissioned Officer, I only had to endure the medical portion of the MEPS that day - My security clearance, moral integrity, and other checkpoints will be completed at different times and through the Chaplain Accessioning Board - more on that later.

Anyway, I had to awaken at 0230 (O' Dark Thirty - before God gets up!) so that I could get myself ready to travel an hour and a half to the Detroit MEPS and arrive there prior to 0545.  I arrived at a dark parking lot around 0515 to be greeted by a bus soon thereafter, which carried around 40 young men (no ladies this round) who were staying at a local hotel and being processed for enlistment in various services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard).  After being briefed on the bus, we were given the go ahead to enter the MEPS building where we would then have an orientation to the day's events.  I had an interesting interaction with the gentleman who guided us through the briefing on the bus - when he discovered that I was going through the process to become a Chaplain, he offered thanks and gratitude then proceeded to call me 'sir'.  What a humbling experience...

Well, on to the physical - Anticipating that at some point I would need to urinate in a cup for the drug test, and out of fear that I might not be able to do the deed on command, I chose not to go before driving to Detroit.  Well... After about 2.5 hours of orientation and a hearing and vision test, I was finally allowed to participate in what would prove to be, a very welcome sigh of relief.  Fortunately, I am not worried about passing the drug test (however, some of the other young men who were there with me seemed to be a bit anxious about that part).  Back to the hearing and vision tests - I was first brought in for a vision test to see if I my depth perception was good or not... The latter proved to be true as I don't think I got a single answer right (I suppose that since I will not be firing a weapon, I don't need to worry much about that one!).  They followed up the vision test with a blood pressure and pulse check - blood pressure was good!  pulse - way too high! (could it be that I'm anxious and had to pee?)  I was concerned that I would not be passed because of high pulse rate - they said that they will try again later.

The hearing test came next - In a soundproof room, they had six of us next to one another where we had to don these headsets and listen for differing frequencies of sound - If you think you hear something, press the button.  The problem was that I could hear my own heart pounding!  Compounding the issue was the fact that I could hear the guy behind me pushing his button at times when I thought I should have pushed mine.  I was worried about this test...

After the hearing and vision tests, I finally had the chance to do the drug test and had my blood drawn. Nothing too spectacular, just like giving blood or going to the doctor's office.  After this, the blood pressure/pulse machine was back at my spot again... Pulse check #2 -- Still too high!  (at this point I still had not gone to the bathroom!)  They said they will try one more time for the pulse...

We were led into a classroom where we had to fill out a form similar to the first medical pre-screen, to catch anything we may have missed on the previous version.  We were also given an introduction by the station commander - very informative, and helpful - especially the part about lunch!  At this point, my folder was given to me with the results of my hearing test - passed!  Yay, certainly by now my pulse should be lowered, right?   Nope.  Gotta get it manually checked by the doctor at the physical...

After having gone through all the other stations, I was finally able to see the medical officer for my physical interview to discuss any residual or new issues.  The process was pretty straightforward, and the medical officer jotted notes as I answered questions.  After meeting with the first medical officer, I was directed toward the end of the hallway into a larger, colder room where the rest of the young men were standing in their briefs.  As we waited in this cold room, the second medical officer called us in one by one for the physical portion of the exam.  Let me say here that this is nothing like the high school athletic physicals, and at the same time, it wasn't that bad - for me anyway.  After this physical I was asked to sit down with the interviewing medical officer once again, and after he jotted a few notes and asked me again my MOS (military job - Chaplain), he said the words I was waiting to hear - "you're good to go!"  Praise God!

Now I wait... and wait... for the next step of meeting with the Accessioning Board for the final interview (reminds me a great deal of the ordination process in the UMC, hmmmm).  As I understand the process, it may be a few more months before I am commissioned and assigned a unit in the Army Reserve.  After this part of the process however, I am more confident that I will soon have the opportunity to serve God and country as a US Army Chaplain - PRO DEO ET PATRIA! (For God and Country)

Thanks for the continued prayers and support!

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