So, you may have heard recently about a young Cadet at West Point, mere months from graduation who resigned in disgust at the imposition of Christianist thought by the leadership at the academy. This brave young man threw over his chance to serve in order to shed light on the horrible influence that Evangelical Christians at the US Military Academy bring to those who don’t embrace their faith, or even any faith at all. He’s speaking truth to power!
Well, if all you read was his entry on The Huffington Post, sure, that’s the story.
But as Paul Harvey would say… here’s the Rest of the Story.
The cadet who claimed to be quitting West Point as a public protest over proselytizing and religious favoritism at the academy was already disqualified from receiving a commission because of clinical depression and anxiety.
Cadet Blake Page said West Point had told him he could graduate on time in 2013 with an academy degree, but he could not serve in the military.
Cadet Page was a “prior service” cadet. That is, he first enlisted in the Army, and was selected from the ranks for his appointment to West Point. And from most reports, his depression and anxiety aside, he appears to have been a satisfactory member of the Corps of Cadets. So much so that rather than separating him from the academy, he was offered the opportunity to complete his degree and to graduate.
First, I’ve got a couple random thoughts-
How much prior service did Mr. Page have? That is, did he serve as an infantryman, deploy and whatnot, or was he selected almost immediately upon completion of OSUT for the Academy Prep School? It doesn’t really have a lot of bearing on this, but I’m curious.
As to not having to reimburse tuition, I’m OK with that decision. He won’t be completing his obligation because the Army said so, not him. He may or may not have angled for that diagnosis of depression and anxiety, but in the end, it was the Army that made it. And it is normal to not seek reimbursement of tuition when cadets are discharged for medical reasons through no fault of their own. In any accession program, there will always be some losses.
As to proselytizing and whatnot at the Academies, I don’t know. It’s not like I spent any time there. But my suspicion is that there might just be a bit of after the fact rationalizing going on here for Mr. Page. My personal experience in the ranks was rather more that openly religious people were more apt to receive ridicule than to dispense it. But that was a long time ago, and cultures, even the Army’s, change.
Speaking of religion in the Army, our friend Chaplain Dave has some goings on. Recently returned from a deployment to Kuwait as the Battalion Chaplain for a National Guard aviation battalion, he’s still forging ahead with his effort to transfer to the US Navy Chaplain Corps. He’s had an interesting career path. As a former Marine artillery officer and now Army National Guard Chaplain, he’s been a Lieutenant, a Captain, a Major, back to Captain, screened for Major again, and if he’s successful in transferring to the Navy, he’ll become a Lieutenant* again.
*US Navy Lieutentants are paygrade 0-3, equivalent to to Marine and Army Captain.