|HSLDA||February 2, 2006|
Homeschool Graduates Enlisting in the Military Protected by New Law
There is more good news for homeschool graduates seeking to enlist in the Armed Services.
An amendment to Section 522 of Senate Bill 1042, requires the Secretary of Defense to create a uniform policy for recruiting homeschool graduates for all four branches of the Armed Services. Furthermore, the new law makes it clear homeschoolers do not have to obtain a GED which carries the stigma of being a dropout. The bill was signed into law by President Bush last January.
On January 6, 2006, President Bush signed Public Law 109-163, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006. Section 591 of the Act requires all four branches of the Armed Forces to institute a uniform recruitment policy for homeschool graduates, to communicate the policy down to the recruiting officer level, and to exempt homeschool graduates from any otherwise applicable requirement to have a secondary school diploma or a GED (which suggests the student dropped out of high school).
Homeschool graduates who desire a career with any of the four Armed Services are currently designated as "preferred enlistees." This means that homeschool graduates who enlist in the military will be treated as if they are Tier I candidates even though their formal status will remain Tier II. Therefore, homeschoolers will receive the same educational benefits, cash bonuses, and available positions in the Armed Services that they would receive if they were Tier I candidates.
HSLDA has been working with the military for several years to remove discriminatory barriers for homeschool graduates. Beginning in 1998, HSLDA secured a pilot project that lasted six years where homeschoolers were experimentally categorized as Tier I candidates, which is the same status as high school graduates from public schools.
Although the program continued until October, 2004, it was not renewed. HSLDA contacted the Administration and explained our situation. A meeting was arranged for us with the Assistant Secretary of Defense and a few other Pentagon officials a month later.
As a result of the meeting in January 2005, the Department of Defense issued a letter stating that homeschoolers were considered "preferred enlistees" and that there were no "practical limits" to the numbers of homeschoolers who could obtain entrance into the Armed Services. At that point, the Department of Defense, at the highest levels, began working with HSLDA to resolve every problem at the local recruitment level with homeschool graduates. Over time, as the new policy is implemented, local recruiters will be able to properly advise homeschoolers.
As a result of the 1998-2004 pilot project, and the January 2005 directive from the Department of Defense, thousands of homeschoolers are serving our country faithfully in the Armed Services.