As part of the US Air Force 360th Recruiting Group’s efforts to identify potential homeschooled recruits and improve its communication with these students, the unit asked a pair of HSLDA employees to provide insight during a training session last week in Leesburg, Virginia.
“Homeschool kids tend to be disciplined and self-motivated,” said HSLDA Staff Attorney Kevin Boden. “They also find themselves in situations where they associate with people outside of their peer groups, which means they’re exposed to different opinions and have adult conversations. I think these traits would be very helpful for someone starting out in a military environment.”
Boden joined Natalie Mack, HSLDA’s military community outreach coordinator, who gave an hour-long presentation to about 65 flight chiefs and officers.
She mainly provided an overview of homeschooling, drawing on her own experiences educating five children while her husband served for 34 years as a US Navy chaplain.
Mack also urged recruiters to connect with state and local homeschool advocacy groups and discuss ways to be more visible to home educating families and students. She suggested recruiters could ask to be provided a booth at the annual conventions held by organizations such as Home Educators Association of Virginia.
Boden, a homeschool dad who spent 13 years as an Air Force judge advocate, attended the training session to answer questions about the legal aspects of homeschooling. He emphasized that parent-issued high school diplomas fully qualify graduates who wish to volunteer for military service, as far as academic credentials are concerned.
The Benefits of Service
Master Sgt. Jacob Valladares said HSLDA’s input will assist his unit’s efforts, not simply in meeting homeschooled teens, but in understanding what motivates these students. He added that this will help recruiters show how the Air Force can get home educated graduates started on a career path.
As Lt. Col. Correy Edmonds explained, “I have found that whatever you’re trying to do in life, the Air Force is a good stepping stone to getting there. You can make a career out of it, but you can use it to get to college or out on your own.”
Col. Joel Brown, who commands the 360th, added that graduates who join the Air Force not only can expect to be taught a trade that may transfer into civilian life, but they will most likely be encouraged to take college courses while on active duty—paid for by the military. And after leaving the service, the GI Bill will give veterans the option of pursuing further education.
The group’s leadership also noted that policy revisions in the 360th regarding its approach to homeschoolers could result in big changes in what the public sees when it comes to military recruiting. The group operates in some of the most heavily populated areas of the US—from Michigan to New York, and down to the Carolinas. It also recruits in Europe.
As for what homeschooled students can do to make themselves most attractive to the military, Col. Brown offered this advice: “Walk into a recruiter’s office.”