GI Rights Hotline

Military Discharges and Military Counseling

Call 1-877-447-4487

Conscientious Objection

Navy

Warning
To be sure that you understand the regulations correctly, call the GI Rights Hotline or contact a GI Rights Network branch.

MILPERSMAN Section 1900-020 (29 Dec 2020) CONVENIENCE OF THE GOVERNMENT SEPARATION BASED ON CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION (ENLISTED AND OFFICERS)

Source
MILPERSMAN Section 1900-020 (29 Dec 2020) CONVENIENCE OF THE GOVERNMENT SEPARATION BASED ON CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION (ENLISTED AND OFFICERS) (204 KB)

Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the the link to it in the box above these comments.

1. Policy. Per reference (a), Service members may be separated based on conscientious objection when their religious training and belief have a firm, fixed, and sincere objection to their participation in war, in any form, or the bearing of arms.

2. Characterization of Service

  • a. Officers -honorable

  • b. Enlisted–honorable, unless general (under honorable conditions)or entry-level separation is warranted per MILPERSMAN 1910-300…

4. Burden of Proof. Applicants bear the burden of proving their claims of conscientious objection as grounds for separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service. They must show by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • a. The nature or basis of their claim meets the definition and criteria prescribed per this article, and

  • b. Their belief, in connection there with, is honest, sincere, and deeply held. They also have the burden of determining and setting forth the exact nature of their request,i.e.,for separation based on conscientious objection (1-0) or assignment to noncombatant training and service based on conscientious objection (1-A-0).

5. Conditions or Restrictions

  • a. After entering the Navy, a request for discharge based solely on conscientious objection which existed, but was not claimed prior to enlistment or notice of induction, will not be considered when such beliefs satisfied the requirements if:

(1) Classified as a conscientious objector under reference (b)and related provisions of law, and

(2) The member failed to request classification as a conscientious objector by the Selective Service System (SSS),or

(3) The member’s request for classification as a conscientious objector before entering the Navy was denied on the merits by the SSS, and his or her present request for classification as a conscientious objector is based on essentially the same grounds, or

(4) Supported by essentially the same evidence as the request, which was denied by the SSS.

  • b. Nothing contained in this article renders a member, who possessed conscientious objector beliefs before entering military service, ineligible for classification as a conscientious objector if:

(1) Such beliefs crystallized after receipt of an induction notice or

(2) The applicant could not request classification by the SSS due to regulations prohibiting the submission of such requests after receipt of an induction notice.

  • c. All claims of conscientious objection will be judged by SSS standards, used in determining 1-0 or 1-A-0 classification of draft registrants prior to induction. Subject to the limitations set forth above, an application for conscientious objector status may be approved for any member who is conscientiously opposed to participation in war, in any form, when opposition is founded on religious training and belief, as defined in MILPERSMAN 1900-010, and whose position is sincere and deeply held.

  • d. A true conscientious objector must be against all wars, rather than a specific war.

6. Applicants’ Proof of Moral and Ethical Beliefs.

Applicants must show that moral and ethical beliefs are against participation in war, in any form, and that these beliefs have directed their life in the way traditional religious convictions of equal strength, depth, and duration have directed the lives of those whose beliefs are clearly found in traditional religious convictions.

7. Primary Factors

  • a. A primary factor to be considered is the sincerity with the belief that is held. Great care must be exercised in determining whether asserted beliefs are honestly and genuinely held. Sincerity is determined by an impartial evaluation of the applicant’s thinking and living in its totality, past and present.

  • b. Care must be exercised in determining the integrity of belief and the consistency of application.

  • c. Information presented by applicants should be convincing enough that their personal history reveals views and actions strong enough to demonstrate the belief in which the conscientious objection is based, is the primary controlling force in his or her life, and that expediency or avoidance of military service is not the basis of their claim.

  • d. The conduct of an applicant, in particular, his or her outward manifestation of the beliefs asserted, will be carefully examined and given substantial weight in evaluating the application.

8. Relevant Factors

  • a. Relevant factors to consider in determining applicant’s claim of conscientious objector include:

(1) Training in the home and church,

(2) General demeanor and pattern of conduct that supports asserted beliefs,

(3) Participation in religious activities,

(4) Whether ethical or moral convictions were gained through training, study, contemplation, or other activity comparable inrigor and dedication to the processes by which traditional religious convictions are formulated,

(5) Credibility of the applicant(i.e., applicant made some major commitments during the time his or her beliefs were developing, which are inconsistent with the applicant’s claim. Applicant applied for designation as a conscientious objector shortly after applying and denied for a special Navy program or becoming aware of the prospect of hazardous or other undesirable duty. Applicant took the military oath of office shortly before applying for conscientious objector status may be evidence of insincerity in a given case. These examples are noteworthy because of their frequent recurrence. The potential relevant areas of inquiry are limitless.) ,and

(6) Credibility of persons supporting the claim.

  • b. An applicant claiming 1-0 status will not be granted 1-A-0 status as a compromise. An applicant may be assigned noncombatant status if the record clearly indicates beliefs such that the applicant is qualified as a noncombatant, but not for discharge as a conscientious objector.

  • c. Particular care must be exercised not to deny the existence of genuine beliefs simply because those beliefs are incompatible with one’s own. Church membership or adherence to particular theological tenets is not required to warrant separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service for conscientious objectors. Mere affiliation with a church or other group which advocates conscientious objection as a tenet of its creed is not necessarily determinative of an applicant’s position or belief. Conversely, affiliation with a church or group, which does not teach conscientious objection beliefs in any given case is also not necessarily determinative of an applicant’s position or belief. Where an applicant is or has been a member of a church, religious organization, or religious sect and where his or her claim of conscientious objection is related to such membership, inquiry may properly be made as to the fact of membership and the teaching of the church, religious organization, or religious sect, as well as the applicant’s religious activity. The fact that applicants may disagree with, or not subscribe to, some of the tenets of their church does not necessarily discredit their claim. The applicants’ personal convictions will be controlling, as long as those convictions derive from their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs. Applicants who are otherwise eligible for conscientious objector status may not be denied that status simply because their conscientious objection influences their views concerning the nation’s domestic or foreign policies. The task is to decide whether the beliefs professed are sincerely held and whether they govern the claimant’s actions in both word and deed...

9. Classification of Conscientious Objectors

  • a.1-0:A person who, by reason of conscientious objection, sincerely objects to participation of any kind in war, in any form.

  • b.1-A-0:A person who, by reason of conscientious objection, sincerely objects to participation as a combatant in any war, in any form, but whose convictions are such as to permit military service in a noncombatant status...


 

11. Procedures for Requesting Classification as a Conscientious Objector

  • a. Application. Applicants will use exhibit 1 to apply for designation as a conscientious objector.

  • b. Required Interviews. Before the command processes the application, it will ensure the applicant has been:

(1) Interviewed by a chaplain, who will submit a written report including the chaplain’s opinion as to the nature and basis of the applicant’s claim and sincerity and depth of conviction. The chaplain’s report must also include the reasons for the conclusions contained within his or her report. The chaplain should ensure the applicant is made aware that the conversation is not confidential or privileged and will be used in an official report.

(2) Evaluated by an appropriately credentialed mental health professional (such as a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, licensed clinical social worker, or psychiatric advanced practice registered nurse,who will submit a written evaluation report, indicating the presence or absence of any mental condition that would warrant treatment or disposition through medical channels for the appropriate administrative action. This opinion and report will become part of the application file.

(3) If an applicant refuses to participate or is uncooperative in the course of the interviews with a chaplain or medical personnel, this fact should be included in the interview report.

(4) Both interviewing officers will provide their personal impressions of the applicant, such as demeanor and manner in which the applicant answers questions. Consideration should be given to all background information and any outward manifestations that tend to support or rebut the applicant’s claim.

(5) Applicants should be carefully evaluated to ensure they are not objecting to military service solely based on false premise. Example: Applicants may state that they cannot serve because they are opposed to murder, organized killing for the sake of ideology, military ventures to gain territory or national wealth, and similar reasons indicated to be policies of the Government or the Military Services). Political opposition to national policies is not necessarily an indication of an applicant’s objection to war on a moral, ethical, or religious basis.

  • c. Investigating Officer(IO)

(1) The CO will appoint an IO to investigate the claim. The IO must be a chief warrant officer in the grade of CWO-3 or higher or a commissioned officer in the grade of O-3 or higher. The IO will not be in the applicant’s chain of command. If the applicant is a commissioned officer in the grade of O-3 or higher, the IO must be senior in grade to the applicant. Note: The CO may appoint a judge advocate in the grade of O-3 or senior as IO. In this regard, the local region legal service office may provide a judge advocate to act as hearing officer on an “as available” basis.

(2) The IO:

  • (a) May obtain guidance and assistance from the region legal service office, command judge advocate, or legal officer.

  • (b) Will conduct a hearing on the application to afford the applicant an opportunity to present any evidence desired in support of the application. This will help the hearing officer to ascertain and assemble all relevant facts to create a comprehensive record and to facilitate an informed recommendation to the CO.

  • (c) Will actively and critically examine the applicant’s beliefs and any failure or refusal to submit to questioning under oath or affirmation. Should the applicant fail to appear, the IO may proceed in the applicant’s absence, as the applicant is considered to have waived the right for appearance.

  • (d) Will fully advise and counsel the applicant concerning the provisions of reference (c), which provides in pertinent part that the discharge of any person on the grounds of conscientious objection, who refused to perform military duty, to wear the uniform, or otherwise to follow lawful orders of competent military authority must bar all rights, except Government insurance, of such personnel under laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA),based upon the period of service from which discharged or dismissed. The only exception is in cases where the DVA confirms that the member was insane. Have the applicant sign the following NAVPERS 1070/613 entry and include in the case file:“(date): I have been advised of the provisions of 38 U.S.C., section 5303,concerning possible non-entitlement to benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs due to discharge from military service as a conscientious objector under certain conditions. I understand that a discharge as a conscientious objector who refused to perform military duty or refused to wear the uniform, or otherwise to comply with lawful orders of competent military authority, will bar all rights, based upon the period of service from which discharged, under any laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, except my legal entitlement (if any) to any war risk, Government (converted), or veterans life insurance.”

d. Hearing

  • (1) The hearing will be informal in character and the rules of evidence employed by court-martial do not apply, except that all oral testimony presented must be under oath or affirmation. Any relevant evidence may be received. Statements obtained from persons not present at the hearing need not be made under oath or affirmation. The hearing is not an adversary proceeding.

  • (2) A verbatim record of the hearing is not required. If an applicant desires such a record and agrees to provide for it at his or her own expense, it may be done. If elected, a copy will be provided to the IO at the conclusion of the hearing and at no expense to the Government. The IO will summarize the testimony of witnesses and permit the applicant or his or her counsel to examine the summaries and note for the record the differences from the IO’s summary.