My Oath of Enlistment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Megan E. Acs
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
It was upsetting news when I heard that an Airman was being denied reenlistment to the World's greatest Air Force due to their refusal to swear to God in the oath of enlistment. When I joined the military I knew there were certain standards I had to adhere to. I had to adjust to completely new ways of operating, lest I be separated for failure to adapt. I expected this to mean PT standards, new customs and courtesies, and other rules and regulations. I never expected it to mean I'd also have to swear to a god I don't believe in. The thought never crossed my mind when I enlisted, nor during basic training, or in tech school.

I knew that other discriminating regulations had been revoked, such as the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, so the idea of being held to certain religious standards didn't even cross my mind.

While I was going through the system, instead of swearing to God, I had the alternate option to affirm each and every time. I was told that we were accepting of everyone, no matter their religion, their skin color, their gender, or their sexuality. Equality was drilled into my head, and I embraced it with every fiber of my being. This is what I'd come to expect from the new Air Force that I was now privileged to be a part of. As a member of a religious minority of sorts, I was being accounted for. My differences were noted, and respected. So, it was a shock to me to hear that in order to re-enlist, I might not be afforded the same rights.

My stomach fell and I worried that my dream of retiring would be cut short at only four years. And while I could have progressed by simply saying the words 'so help me God', I knew I couldn't go against my own beliefs like that. I would have to turn my back on everything I stand for, and everything I've been taught. I would have to disregard our core value of Integrity First. I would be lying to myself and to my service, which is not something I could deal with. I worried that I would have to choose between my life's goal, and the integrity that has been instilled in me in my new career as an Airman.

My worries however, have been quelled. The oath of enlistment has changed to accommodate religious differences, and I am grateful that this nation, and the services devoted to its protection are taking progressive steps toward such equality. History has been plagued by discrimination from every angle. Skin color, religion, gender, and sexuality have been under attack throughout the years. But now, in my Air Force, cultural background doesn't matter. Religion doesn't matter. Gender doesn't matter. Sexuality doesn't matter. We treat each other with respect, acknowledging our differences and our individual rights to live as we chose, without discrimination. We advance based on merit, considered for promotion based on our achievements and nothing else. Maybe we're not perfect, but we're learning. We're growing and these changes, I feel, will only help strengthen our country. Our unity will help us advance. When we put these prejudices behind us, we can move forward as a family, learning how to best utilize the strengths of all our diverse, beautiful service members. When I heard the oath of enlistment had been amended, I could only smile. This is why we're the greatest Air Force in the world. This is why I'm proud to be here.