Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How this all got started...

When did it all begin?
I grew up in the Army, enlisted in the Air Force in 1985, out in 1989, so the military has always been a part of my life.  I've wanted to return ever since I've been married, since 1990, but one thing prevented me...a seizure.

I had a single grand mal seizure in 1988, which forced me out of the Air Force.  This prevented me from going back in the military, until recently.

In 2007 a recruiter suggested I enter the Army National Guard because they desperately need Chaplain's.  He said I should just 'give it a try' and see what happens.  So, I began the process and it began with, sadly my weight.

I weighed in at a hefty 227, the heaviest I had ever been.  So I worked on my weight and the Army worked on waivers for my seizure.  Toward the end of 2007, in November I notified the congregations I serve that I am considering the National Guard, which would require time on my part (one weekend a month, 2 weeks a year).  Well, not many were excited about this new drain on my already busy schedule.

So, after much prayer and discussion with my wife, who said, "I will support you no matter what decision you make", what a great wife, she also said, "If you're going to do it, just do it full time."  So I notified my recruiter that I intend to stop the process and once again put the Military out of my mind.

October 2008; I began to think about it again.  In fact, I never really stopped thinking about it.  One day I called a recruiter and began the process of going through the waivers.  I called my endorsing agency and started filling out the paperwork for receiving an Ecclesiastical Endorsement from the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

November 2008; My recruiter told me I had received all of the waivers and was clear to continue the process.  He suggested my paperwork be presented before the February Chaplain Accession Board and June Chaplain Basic.  I was SO excited, but...

January 2009; There's always a 'but' in the process.  Since I weighed in at one time above my weight requirement, I had to make a trip to Milwaukee MEPS for one weigh in.  After exercising like crazy, I weighed in at 205, well below my limit.

Another HUGE problem and potential deal breaker.  The military doctors wanted me to have an EEG done to make sure I am 'normal'.  "Oh no", I thought.  "Well, this is it", I remember telling my wife.  If the EEG comes back abnormal, I'm done.  Oh, and we need this right now.  'Hurry up and wait' starts and so does some frustration.

January 2009; Thankfully we live in a small town and the doctors are not THAT busy so I was able to see my family doctor to get a referral to a Neurologist, who would after an examination declare me fit for duty, and then he would schedule an EEG.  This all happened in 3 days.  God was clearly working.

I wake up with a terrible headache so I drink my normal 34 oz. of Green Tea (with caffeine) and take a migraine pill (with caffeine) and go to have my EEG done.  Little did I know that caffeine affects the EEG results, but they didn't.  God's gracious hand was on me and the EEG came back normal.  I AM NORMAL, at least that's what the EEG says.  Others say differently.

Still January 2009; I submit all of my paperwork including Ecclesiastical Endorsement, waivers, EEG results, recommendation from the Neurologist at the required deadline, but it's too late.  I have to wait until the March Board.  Aargh!  'Hurry up and wait'.

February 2009; Lent starts and the only thing left on my packet for the March Board is the Accession Interview with an Army Chaplain.  Well, we live in the UP of Michigan and are 12 hours from the closest Army Post.  

My schedule suddenly becomes packed with things to do including 3 Bible Studies a week, 4 worship services a week, shut ins, and the normal things we pastors do.  I had hoped to get this interview done before Lent, but didn't get the call until a week before Ash Wednesday, on the 18th.  So, the only time we could schedule this was the 28th of February, the last day of February.  I was told to 'hurry up' and get this done as it needed to be done before the first day of the month.  Aargh!  

February 2009; My wife and I drive from Michigan to Fort Leavenworth Kansas, leaving 7 am on Thursday the 27th.  We drive 16.5 hours through a massive snow storm in the Minneapolis area.  We arrive at the hotel at 10:30, skip the hot tub, go to sleep, wake up at 8 am, my wife cuts my hair, we take a shower and go to the interview at 9 am, have a wonderful interview at which time the Chaplain indicates he will recommend me for Active Duty, and then we drive 13.5 hours home.  Two days, 30 hours in a car.  

And now...we wait.  March Accession Board meets March 24th and everyone tells me I should find out the results within a week, by the end of the month.  Then orders, swearing in, packing and Basic in June.  All should move along after the end of the month.

My recruiter tells me EVERYTHING is done.  We'll see about that, but according to the steps from the Army everything is done.  All waivers are through; nothing to hold me back.  

Ultimately, if God is calling me, which I believe He is, then indeed nothing can stop it.  See how God worked in my life?  How is He working in yours?


  1. Thank you for this encouraging blog. My packet goes to the board Nov 2-3 for Active Duty Army Chaplain. It is both stressful and exciting at the same time! I too needed a medical waiver and have learned alot of patience through this process (started in May). Could use some advise on what you told your church when you resigned.

    God Bless,

    Pastor R

  2. I am excited for you and pray all goes well. I'm sure you know by now, but don't tell your congregation until you get orders in your hand. I found out the end of March 2009 that I was accessioned as an Army Chaplain but didn't tell them until May 1st, when I received my orders. I gave them almost a month's notice. I went to CH-BOLC May 31st.
    I'm not sure what sort of relationship you have with your congregation or if anyone at all knows of your intentions. No one knew in my congregation so it came as a big shock to them. I just told them that I felt God was calling me to the US Army as a Chaplain and that on the 31st I would be leaving the congregation to serve God and His people in the Army. They knew my background, growing up in the Army and served years ago in the Air Force, so most understood. In the end, it turned out fine.
    If you have personal questions, please email me at the listed email address. Blessings.

  3. CH Wright,

    I received...THE CALL yesterday at 1643. I was accessioned as an Active Duty chaplain and waiting to see when I will go to CHBOLC (either Jan. or have to wait till June).

    We serve a BIG God - He is far better to me than I deserve!

    I was unable to locate your email. Thanks again for the inspiration and encouragement found on this blog. Maybe we will run into each other somewhere along the way.

    Pastor R

  4. Well, congratulations. The Army is quite and adventure. My email is