Eight years ago today, my father administered the following oath to me while we were both standing on the quarterdeck of the Georgia Institute of Technology Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps unit:
I, [Linoge], do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Shortly beforehand, I had signed a document saying that I would give the United States Navy at least four years of active duty service and at least four years of reserve service (the NROTC recruiters invariably leave out the second part, though, as I have proven over the past four years, "Individual Ready Reserve" amounts to pretty much nothing at all.*).
Well, those eight years have elapsed, and I find myself no longer contractually, legally, or morally obligated to the United States Navy, nor under the restrictions and limitations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and, as such, free to speak my mind as I see fit about the service I honorably rendered.
A little over four years since I last requested permission to go ashore, about the only thing I find I really want to say is, "If I knew then what I knew now, I probably would not have bothered," and, honestly, that makes me a bit sad.
All that said, I neither recall nor see an expiration or release date in the oath I took with my right hand raised and all that; take that as you like.
(* – To show how much of a nothing the Navy’s IRR program is, I attempted to contact the Naval Reserve branch office in San Diego when we were getting ready to move in order to report my status and inform them that we were about to move, as I was legally obligated to do. The officer on the other end of the line did not understand why I was calling if I was not an actual Reservist, and told me that unless I was willing to become one (and he would be quite happy to help me do so), they did not need to hear from me ever again. I politely declined his offer, and went on my merry.)