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February 2016
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My resignation letter

Historically, when an Officer asked to resign their military service it was a big deal. Times change and these days Officer resignation isn’t as big of a event as it once was but even still, a lot of formal documentation goes into the process. Of central significance is the resignation letter, a document attached to the legal paperwork which makes its way to big Navy and serves as an explanation as to why an Officer is resigning. I’ve taken my service very seriously and put a lot of thought into the reasons of my resignation. The formal letter with signatures on letterhead is officially en route up my Chain of Command. I wanted to share what I wrote here because it means a lot to me:

My reasons for resigning are much larger, deeper and fundamental than gripes about working hours and failures in command leadership. I am not the right man to continue in this job. I previously believed I wasn’t talented enough for the coming challenges the Navy would offer but weeks and weeks serving as an acting Principal Assistant on CVN-65 during a test program, to great success, taught me otherwise. No, I realized my heart isn’t in this job anymore – at least to the extent that it matters for the assignments I’d hold in the future within my community.

I’ve been called a “true believer” by my peers on multiple occasions and I believe that observation is accurate. I love leadership, duty, honor, and integrity. My proudest moments are those spent leading sailors at sea and in propulsion plants. I enjoyed the long hours earning the respect of my superiors and subordinates through tireless work and resolute determination.

The question can be posed, “but you’ll continue to lead sailors as a DH/XO/CO, so why get out?” The leadership exhibited at levels beyond my pay grade is unfortunately not the kind I care for. Production, budget, PB4M, MCAP and planning meetings kill my soul in a way which transcends description. I’m an operator and leader – not a manager. Long gone are the days where an Officer can actually execute “the special trust and confidence of the President.” I hold no doubts that a World War II Naval Officer would be ashamed to see what the Officer corps has become today. Signing papers and managing databases is not leadership and whatever it is, it certainly isn’t hands on and tangible enough to keep me motivated.

I’m thankful for my experiences and the opportunity to work with some of the finest individuals on the face of the earth. CDR Linda Seymour, LCDR Megan Thomas, LT Tina Bove, LT Michael Dodson, LTJG Dennis Kee, ENS Benjamin Dabney, ETCS James Gale, and Petty Officer Colby Wollak are true heroes to name a few.

Sadly, for every single hero there is also a person who stays in the Navy when they shouldn’t be allowed to. People who lie, cheat, have inappropriate relationships, work the least because their incompetence is tolerated/accepted and stay in for the worst reason of them all: the money.

I wish I knew how to fix the flaws in an organization which means so much to me but the problems are systemic and deeply rooted. At this point in my career I’ll never be a deckplate leader again – I’ll be forced by the system to become a paperwork manager, tethered by e-mail to an ever growing tower of other paperwork managers.

Thus, I respectfully request to resign my commission so I can pursue other service-oriented jobs where I can still lead in a tangible fashion or as an alternative pursue self employment where I’m not required to carry the incompetent. I’m grateful for my Naval experiences but disappointed by what the Navy has become, i.e., an organization in which I don’t see an enjoyable future for myself, at least in the capacity as a SWO(N).

                                       Very respectfully,

                                      C. A. PETRI

                                      LT      USN


Comment from Josh Edens
Time December 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Thank you for your years of service to our country Clark. I agree in so many ways with your assessment of the US Military. You’ve done great things and will continue to. This transition will be difficult at times, but you will persevere and enjoy many happy years as a ‘civilian’ again. With your shield or on it Spartan.

Comment from David
Time December 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm

You have served your country with great focus, determination, integrity and courage. I have always supported your decisions and do so now. Live your life the way you want to. As your father, I can not be prouder of you than I already am. Keep moving forward Much respect.

Comment from Bonnie
Time December 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Wow, saw your post on FB. Your Dad is talking to you right now. I agree with your Dad. All the best to you and Tovah for whatever the future brings. Good for you for getting out of paperwork hell.

Comment from Mom
Time December 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Wow. Great letter that ought to get their attention. You write so well. That was cool to mention your co-workers that you respect. You can stand tall with the job you have done. I’m so proud of you. Love Always, Mom

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