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March 29, 2005

Army Opens Doors Wide for Homeschool Graduates

Ever since Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) convinced Congress to enact a five year pilot project in 1998 so homeschoolers could be placed in the Tier I category of military enlistment, homeschoolers have proven themselves in the Armed Services. The Army, in particular, has recognized the contributions of homeschool graduates and is actively seeking to recruit more homeschoolers.

A recent Defense Department survey conducted in 2004 analyzed homeschool enlistees attrition rates and performance in the military. Homeschool graduates serving in the Army scored high marks.

For example, homeschoolers enlisting in the Army have consistently scored, on average, as high as traditional public school graduates on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). For the first 12 months, their attrition rate was as low as public school graduates. Legal waivers for drug and alcohol offenses committed prior to enlistment were 0%. And only 1.8 of all homeschool Army recruits who left the Army received less than honorable discharges.

After working with the Army for the past six years on homeschool recruitment issues, Chris Klicka, HSLDA Senior Counsel, was told that the Army has started a new effort to recruit homeschool graduates. Despite the end of the five year pilot project in October 2004 that caused the Army to revert to the policy which severely disadvantaged homeschoolers by placing them in the Tier II category, the Army has chosen to open the door for homeschool graduates and not apply any Tier categories to qualifying homeschool graduates. Homeschoolers will now have all the same benefits and positions that are available to traditional high school graduates. The playing field is finally level for homeschoolers.

The Army made the change with the blessing of the Defense Department. When the Defense Department refused to renew the five year pilot project last October, effectively blocking homeschoolers from most of the Armed Services, Chris Klicka sought a meeting with the Bush Administration to solve this problem. He met with an Assistant Secretary of Defense. Klicka presented the problem and urged for a renewal of Tier I status for homeschool graduates.

After following up with a Deputy Assistant Secretary, Klicka secured a January 21, 2005 memorandum that "afforded priority enlistment with no practical limit" to homeschoolers. In addition, there would be no GED requirement for homeschool recruits.

The Army now offers qualified homeschool graduates a variety of enlistment incentives and enlistment of homeschool seniors into the Future Soldiers program is also authorized.

Under current Army policy, applicants who qualify as a homeschool graduate will now be eligible for the same enlistment incentives as a traditional high school graduate.

The policy change is part of a special test program the Army is developing to predict first-term attrition among Army enlistees. Currently, the best single predictor of an individual's likelihood of adapting to the military is a traditional high school diploma. However, many individuals with alternative education experiences are successful in the military. The goal of this new program is to identify applicants who are likely to adapt to the Army and successfully complete their first term of service.

Homeschool graduates seeking to enlist in the military need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Possess a homeschool diploma and submit transcripts at the time of enlistment. The course work must involve parental supervision and the transcript must reflect the normal credit hours per subject used in traditional high school
  2. Must score 31 or above on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
  3. Must take the Assessment of Individual Motivation (AIM) test, which is 20-minute pencil and paper test. The AIM test score is used to obtain data and does not affect qualification for enlistment.
  4. At a minimum, the last academic year (9 months) must be completed in a homeschool environment.

For more information on this policy change, homeschool parents and students should contact the local Army recruiter. If any homeschool graduates have problems with the recruitment process, they should immediately call HSLDA and our legal staff will assist member families.

We are thankful for the Army's open door policy for all homeschool graduates who want to serve their country in this capacity.