New Flexibility in Premilitary Orientation

    “New Flexibility in Premilitary Orientation,” Ensign, July 1975, 70–71

    New Flexibility in Premilitary Orientation

    “With the discontinuance of the Selective Service draft in the United States, … those volunteering for military service frequently do so on very short notice. There has been a corresponding marked decrease in the number of young men attending the preservice Church orientation for prospective LDS servicemen. … Also, more of our young women are entering the service. In view of these changing conditions, it is more important than ever that these young men and women attend the preservice Church orientation and that the scheduling of this orientation be more flexible.” (President Spencer W. Kimball, letter to Regional Representatives of the Council of the Twelve.)

    Before the military draft ended in the United States in December 1972, each draftee was given at least 30 days’ notice before reporting for basic training. This was usually adequate time to make arrangements for him to attend preservice Church orientation, usually conducted in group sessions at a pre-fixed time and place on a multiregional, regional, or stake basis.

    Now that the United States has adopted an all-volunteer military program, many young men and women who decide to enter the service leave for basic training in a matter of days. There is often neither time nor opportunity for them to attend a scheduled orientation session. Therefore, preservice Church orientations conducted only at prescheduled times and locations no longer meet the challenging need of our young men and women to receive this training.

    In order to adapt to the needs of those who depart for military service on short notice, instructors in the program must now be prepared to present this orientation on a one-to-one basis when necessary, and at a time and place convenient to the member. Moreover, a redistribution of instructors will take into account situations where distance may be a real problem. In many regions—metropolitan areas, for example—one instructor may be sufficient for several stakes; but where distance is a problem, some stakes or even individual scattered wards or branches may each require an instructor.

    The purpose of preservice Church orientation is to provide each prospective serviceman or woman with a basic knowledge of the Church program for those in the military and an understanding of the special responsibilities of each Latter-day Saint enlistee. Included in the orientation are discussions on such topics as living the standards of the Church, keeping in touch with home, sharing the gospel, investing leisure time, etc. Regional Representatives of the Council of the Twelve are responsible for organizing and supervising preservice Church orientation within their respective regions.

    The first responsibility for arranging to receive this orientation lies, of course, with the member himself, after the decision to enter the military has been made. However, parents and home teachers should also encourage the young man or woman to receive this training and see that the ward executive secretary is notified. Home teachers must give special attention to less active members whose plans for the military may be more difficult to determine.

    When the ward executive secretary has been notified, he will immediately contact the stake executive secretary who will, in turn, notify the preservice orientation instructor assigned to the region. The instructor will contact the prospective serviceman and make an appointment for him to receive the preservice Church orientation in a group session if possible, on a one-to-one basis if necessary.

    It is the Church’s objective that every young man and woman entering and serving in the armed forces receive the valuable instruction available through this flexible adaptation of the program.

    Photography by Frank Gale