January 13, 2012

Major Victory for Homeschool Graduates Enlisting in the Military

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations

HSLDA is pleased to announce a major victory for homeschool graduates. A new law guarantees the equal treatment of homeschool graduates who seek to enlist in the U.S. armed forces.

HSLDA has previously detailed our work to ensure that homeschool graduates are able to serve their nation by enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces. After numerous homeschool graduates were refused recruitment simply because their diploma was granted to them by their parents and not by a traditional brick-and-mortar school, HSLDA worked with the Pentagon to draft a temporary policy to ensure that homeschool graduates were not discriminated against because of the source of their high school diplomas.

Despite this success, we were concerned that there was no permanent guarantee homeschool graduates would be able to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Pentagon’s temporary policy was scheduled to expire on September 30, 2012.

HSLDA began meeting with supporters of homeschooling in Congress in early 2011. We urged them to insert language into the annual Department of Defense Authorization Bill to ensure that homeschool graduates could enlist in the military.

These meetings paid off. Representatives John Kline (MN), Buck McKeon (CA), Joe Wilson (SC), and Duncan Hunter (CA), inserted language into the DOD legislation guaranteeing equal treatment for any high school graduate who “completes a program of secondary education in compliance with the education laws of the State in which the person resides.” You can read the full text of this section below. (Section 532 of H.R. 1540)

In addition, these representatives inserted language in the House Armed Services Committee Report specifying that their intent in adding this language was to ensure that homeschool graduates were able to enlist.

These representatives closely monitored the language in the bill as it worked its way through Capitol Hill. The language was uncontested during the DOD legislation’s House and Senate committee hearings and final passage. President Obama signed the bill into law on December 31, 2011.

HSLDA wants to publically thank Representatives John Kline, Buck McKeon, Joe Wilson, and Duncan Hunter for their leadership on this bill. Without their strong support for HSLDA’s language in the DOD authorization bill, it would have been much harder—if not impossible—for this language to sail through both the House and Senate on a bipartisan basis.

HSLDA also wants to thank our thousands of HSLDA members all across the nation. Without you and your membership in HSLDA, we would not have the resources to lobby Congress and ensure that homeschool freedom is protected, and that homeschool graduates do not face discrimination.

We are grateful for this victory. HSLDA will closely monitor the implementation of this legislation to ensure that Congress’ intent to protect homeschool graduates is not watered down in any way. More importantly, this legislation ensures that patriotic young homeschool graduates will be able to serve their nation in the armed forces.

If you wish to send a thank you letter or email to Representatives Kline, McKeon, Wilson, or Hunter, you may find their contact information online.

Here is the full text of Section 532 of H.R. 1540. The relevant section that pertains to homeschool graduates is italicized:

SEC. 532. POLICY ON MILITARY RECRUITMENT AND ENLISTMENT OF GRADUATES OF SECONDARY SCHOOLS.

(a) EQUAL TREATMENT FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL GRADUATES.

(1) EQUAL TREATMENT.—For the purposes of recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces, the Secretary of a military department shall treat a graduate described in paragraph (2) in the same manner as a graduate of a secondary school (as defined in section 9101(38) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801(38)).

(2) COVERED GRADUATES.—Paragraph (1) applies with respect to person who—

(A) receives a diploma from a secondary school that is legally operating; or

(B) otherwise completes a program of secondary education in compliance with the education laws of the State in which the person resides.

(b) POLICY ON RECRUITMENT AND ENLISTMENT.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall prescribe a policy on recruitment and enlistment that incorporates the following:

(1) Means for identifying persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are qualified for recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces, which may include the use of a non-cognitive aptitude test, adaptive personality assessment, or other operational attrition screening tool to predict performance, behaviors, and attitudes of potential recruits that influence attrition and the ability to adapt to a regimented life in the Armed Forces.

(2) Means for assessing how qualified persons fulfill their enlistment obligation.

(3) Means for maintaining data, by each diploma source, which can be used to analyze attrition rates among qualified persons.

(c) RECRUITMENT PLAN.—As part of the policy required by subsection (b), the Secretary of each of the military departments shall develop a recruitment plan that includes a marketing strategy for targeting various segments of potential recruits with all types of secondary education credentials.

(d) COMMUNICATION PLAN.—The Secretary of each of the military departments shall develop a communication plan to ensure that the policy and recruitment plan are understood by military recruiters.