Just tell the truth!

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Beat Army, May 18, 2016.

  1. Beat Army

    Beat Army New Member

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    Current mid here.

    This post is mainly for candidates. This is something that I unnecessarily fretted about a great deal. I hope someone struggling with something similar is able to find solace in my observations.

    I was not perfect in high school. I made some stupid decisions. But that's high school. You have to figure yourself out.

    I was absolutely overjoyed when I received my appointment in January of my senior year. I had wanted to go to the Naval Academy for a while, and had worked my butt off in high school. I continued to be absolutely overjoyed throughout the second semester of the year and continue to be absolutely overjoyed now, long past I Day, plebe summer, and plebe year. I was totally bought in before I even got to Annapolis, and remain totally bought in.

    But I am not perfect.

    I had drank underage before I accepted my appointment. I knew that the consequences for that kind of behavior would increase tremendously once I arrived, so I drank underage even after I received my appointment. I even smoked marijuana. I certainly was not a party animal, but I certainly was not perfect.

    When I did my DoDMERB screening that fall, I decided to admit that I had drank underage. I admitted that I had smoked marijuana on the Standard Form that began the process of obtaining a secret security clearance. The paper trail terrified me. But I was bought in, and I knew that part of being bought in was being honorable and telling the truth.

    Likely, some of you find yourself in the same situation. You are bought in. You want this more than anything. You probably will do well at USNA and make great officers some day. But you are not perfect.

    You have to tell the truth.

    First, you are not going to lose your appointment. The only people who see your DoDMERB paperwork are DoDMERB staff. They just give USNA a "yes" or a "no". Either you are medically qualified or you are not. No specific reports on your shenanigans. Same with your SF86. The clearance folks take your information to determine whether granting you a clearance will be a national security liability. Having smoked marijuana in high school does not make you a national security liability. You will still get a clearance. I had to do an extra interview with an OPM staffer, but that's all. No one connected to the Naval Academy's conduct system will see those documents.

    No one told me that. I spent the more than a calendar year (January-when I tried weed- until I found out that I got my clearance in the spring of plebe year) mortified that I was going to lose it all. I was scared that they would take my appointment away, or that I wouldn't get a clearance and USNA would wonder why. I was bought in. I was so excited. And I thought that one stupid decision in high school would be the end of it all.

    It wasn't. I don't want anyone to spend as long as I did fretting. So don't worry. Everything is going to be okay. It always works itself out when you just tell the truth.

    That serves as a nice transition to the second reason you should be honest. This one is the more important of the two: You need to build a habit of doing the hard right thing. Even when it is really hard. Sometimes, telling the truth sucks. In my case it did. It would have been really easy to leave those sections blank in my paperwork. But if you want to buy in to the United States Naval Academy and its mission, you have to buy in all the way. Even when it sucks. Especially when it sucks. Your future sailors and marines (as well as mine) deserve nothing less than a leader who is willing to do the hard right thing. They deserve someone who is honorable, who does not lie under any circumstances. They deserve that leader. You owe it to them to be that leader. So do it.

    Best of luck, guys. Hopefully I will see you soon.
     
  2. Megan'sMom-Okla

    Megan'sMom-Okla Member

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    Just. Wow. Very eloquent and very well said. I wish you much luck as you continue to traverse this thing called adulthood. And thank you for doing the "hard right thing". One of my favorite quotes (not sure whom to credit for it) is "Do the right thing, all the time, even when nobody notices."

    Hooyah! Sempre Fortis!
    Go Navy!
     
  3. Capri120

    Capri120 Member

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    Beat Army, your post should be copied to all of the SA threads.

    And as Megan'sMom said, Thank you for doing the "hard right thing". Honesty in all aspects of life is always the best policy - pardon the cliche.

    Best of luck in your life; you have an excellent start and will make a fine officer.
     
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  4. Candidate765

    Candidate765 New Member

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    This was a very very useful post and gives me some of my sanity back. I still live with regret and a sense of "Jeez, why did I do that?" for having experimented a while ago, but that's just how it is. However, there is another point of topic that scares me even more and that is confessing to my parents. I will confess, for that is what integrity is about but I am really afraid of losing all of their trust. Did you, Beat Army, tell your parents? If so, how did you do it and how did they react?
     
  5. Cerberi

    Cerberi Member

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    Great input.

    I would add that if you tell the truth now when you are not covered by the UCMJ, you won't have to stress about what to do when you complete the security background check again when you are covered by the Honor Code/Concept and the UCMJ.
     
  6. HopefulDad3210

    HopefulDad3210 Member

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    Your other option of course is just not to do those things in the first place. While we can all admire OP's late breaking instinct to "do the right thing", the right thing is, in fact, not to drink underage or smoke at all, whether or not a precious USNA spot is riding on it. Those things are wrong all the time everywhere. If you want to be honorable, just be honorable. If you then decide to also apply to USNA, great. I'm sorry, but I am left to wonder what OP would have done/not done had he/she not wanted so badly to attend USNA.
     
  7. Cerberi

    Cerberi Member

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    IMHO - the SA's and the military recognize that not everyone is without sin and that is especially true when dealing with teenagers and young adults. A very important area they are concerned about is ensuring that if you do violate the rules are you then willing to admit it and accept the consequences.

    If the SA's and the US military only accepted individuals who had never 'sinned', I would venture to say class sizes would be substantially smaller.

    I had a classmate who did something very stupid and when it came down to fill out the security form as a senior made the choice to answer truthfully and was immediately disenrolled and he was within weeks of graduation. He appealed and Colonel Wakin - head of USAFA's Philosophy Dept and a well respected author on ethics in war and the military simply asked the 3 Star Superintendent - 'Who is it that we really want to commission.' This guy who made a mistake and is willing to own it or the guy who could easily just lie on the form.' (No one would have ever known about his poor decision). He was re-instated and went on to a very stellar career.

    If you have never done anything stupid as a teenager/young adult - good for you. But I personally am ok with the SA's approach that appears to be equally interested in the character of people that have made mistakes and are willing to own it.
     
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  8. HopefulDad3210

    HopefulDad3210 Member

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    I don't disagree. But, if the audience is young people who are still confronted with these decisions, I think the point is worth making that they should be striving to make good decisions, for their own sake, and avoid the need to struggle with whether to tell the truth.
     
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  9. Cerberi

    Cerberi Member

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    Confessing is not what integrity is about. If you feel compelled to tell your parents that you screwed up and made a poor decision, then by all means - do so, but it is not necessarily a reflection on an individual's integrity. (I am by no means advocating for illegal drug use and I have some very strong feelings about how we should deal with people that distribute and sell drugs).

    Your parents were young and dumb once as well, and as a parent I really don't want my kids coming home to tell me every time they do something that I would consider 'poor judgement' on their part. There are other issues that I would want them to let me know because of potential repercussions, but what I want is my kids to learn from their mistakes and I don't expect them to live a mistake free life (not that I didn't hope for that).

    I have been one, knew quite few, coached, and officiated - there is nothing in this world dumber than a teenage male. The funniest thing I ever see is when Mothers talk about 'can you believe he did that' while the Fathers lower their heads and smirk knowing that they too were young and dumb.

    And for the record, I was one of those guys that never drank or experimented with drugs of any type.

    And when you do get a security clearance, I believe they are less interested in the 'have you ever' and more interested in whether or not you would lie about it.
     
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  10. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    I think there is an important assumption being made here and that there is not a pattern of misconduct. Making SOME mistakes (not all mistakes are equal) once and learning from it, is part of growing -- however, repetition of these same mistakes (situation dependent) is generally a negative sign (lesson was not learned). The Character Review Board has a purpose in determining the severity of the conduct (not all mistakes are equal) and the likelihood that the candidate will not repeat the same mistake or have other questionable character issues.

    I guess it depends on how you define "sinned." As a military member, getting a speeding ticket (not reckless driving) you pay the fine or contest in court (no big deal) -- if you do drugs, you are AT LEAST NJP'd (article 15) or in many cases in a court-martial. I would agree that many candidates have committed "minor" sins, but if the SAs were to not accept candidates with "major" sins, there would be no issue filling the classes with qualified candidates. After all, I think almost everyone would agree, that humans are not perfect (regardless of age) -- so we all have sinned at some level. Should a major sin forever taint a young adult's record? Clearly the military is willing to forgive past transgressions with SOME caveats (including responsibility and accountability).
     
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