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Proper Religious Classification for our Orthodox Troops January 21, 2010

Posted by stgeorgeoma in Uncategorized.

Re-posted from the SGOMA Facebook Discussion Board (SGOMA Facebook)

Written by Fr. Peter M. Dubinin
Chaplain (Major), USAR
Special Categories Chaplain Recruiting, OIC

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ – Glory to Jesus Christ! Thoughts just keep popping into my head; how to guide our Orthodox soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen. In the Army, for as long as I’ve been in, I continue to see a breakdown at the recruit, in-processing level to rightly identify our Orthodox Christian service members. A significant number of folks engaged in the documenting process of new service members who don’t have a clue what Orthodox Christian is let alone realize there is an identifier in the Army records system. As such what I think is a significant number of service members never get identified in the “system” as Orthodox Christian; they will be identified sometimes as Christian – No Denom Preference, Jewish, Protestant (because they are neither Roman Catholic or Jewish), or No Religious Preference…. My Orthodox brothers and sisters in the Army and all the other services, make sure you are identified in the “system” as Orthodox Christian. In the Army, the official designation is “Eastern Orthodox Churches.” Don’t look for Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, etc. I don’t know the specifices for the Navy or Air Force. For enlisted folk in the Army, work through your NCO chain of command to complete a DA 4187 to request change to religious identification. The 4187 may be processed completely by your PAC or you may be permitted to go to Enlisted Records directly to coordinate the necessary change to your record. Why is this important? The Army works off of numbers; if we are showing for example 1500 Orthodox in the Army when in fact we may have more like 5000, this makes the decision makers sit up and take notice. Requests for specific religious coverage then carry more weight. Again, don’t get bent because you are not identified according to your ethnicity; it’s all about being an Orthodox Christian – one Church, one fight.  Blessings.

Fr. Peter


1. matt - January 31, 2010

In the Air Force (I serve in the MI Air Nat’l Guard), the identifier is “Eastern Orthodox Churches.” However on my dog tags, there wasn’t enough room for “Eastern Orthodox,” or “Orthodox Christian,” and I didn’t want it just to have “Orthodox” and have a rabbi show up at my bedside should I get hurt. So my dogtags read “Orth Christian.” Although my guess is that no one but another Orthodox Christian would have any idea what that means.

p.s. great website!

2. St. George Orthodox Military Assoc. - February 3, 2010


Thank you for the comment. It was good to hear from you and hear about your ordeals with getting your Dog-tags properly labeled to identify you as an Eastern Orthodox Christian. We will try to work with our Chaplains and our Elected Officials to see if there cannot be one universal description for the Eastern Orthodox Christians through out all the Armed Services, that would be recognizable and understood by all Medical, Chapel and Mortuary Affairs personnel in all the Services to ensure that our Orthodox Troops receive the needed pastoral and religious considerations throughout their care in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Thank you for your comment about our website. I has only been up since December and we hope to add more to it over the next few months. Please feel free to check it out on a regular basis. As well, please consider signing up for Membership with the St. George Orthodox Military Assoc. Being in the Armed Services your membership is free.

We also welcome you to come back and visit this Blog site and reply to any future blogs. We hope to get a couple more of our Orthodox Chaplains involved with posting blogs on this page and updating our Troops to the important things they see as a priority to our Orthodox Troops. One of them being, being classified correctly as an Eastern Orthodox Christian (or what ever the corresponding title is for the various Services).

Thank you for your service to our Country and to your State.

Stay Safe!
-SGOMA Web Team

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