06/21/2014 | By William A. Estrada, Esq. Director of Federal Relations
HOME SCHOOL OPTIONS
Is your son or daughter interested in a career in the U.S. Armed Forces? HSLDA is pleased to announce that homeschool graduates are now free to enlist in the military on the same terms as any other high school graduate.
Since 1998, HSLDA has been working with the Pentagon and Congress to ensure that patriotic young men and women who wish to serve their nation in the armed forces are free to do so and are not discriminated against because they were homeschooled. After numerous battles, and most recently, congressional amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act in 2012 and 2014, we are finally ready to declare victory.
We have confirmed that the Pentagon has finalized and implemented new policies for homeschool graduates who seek to enlist. These policies are simply to determine if your child was actually homeschooled and not for any other reason. We are very pleased that Congress’ attention to homeschool freedom and equal treatment is leading to good policies for homeschool enlistment across the armed forces.
HSLDA has drafted the following guidance for homeschool graduates who are interested in enlisting in the armed forces. Please note that each situation is unique, and that HSLDA is happy to answer any member’s questions.
Guidance for Enlistees
1. If your state law requires you to file some type of notice with the state or local school district, you will need to show that documentation (and any response you received from the school district) to the recruiter. If you live in a state that doesn’t require you to file a notice of intent to homeschool with the school district, the recruiter will ask you to supply some additional documentation to verify that you are indeed a homeschool graduate. This additional documentation may vary depending on the branch of the military and the state you live in.
2. Each homeschooler must submit a transcript attesting that he or she has completed high school in a homeschool setting. We encourage you to show as detailed a transcript as you can. If you need assistance drafting a transcript, HSLDA’s high school consultants are happy to help HSLDA member families, or you can use HSLDA’s Fast Transcript Service. You can find more information on transcripts on our website.
3. Each homeschooler needs to have a high school diploma issued by his or her parent, guardian, or national, state, or county homeschool association or organization. We strongly encourage you to use a professional diploma, such as HSLDA’s high school diploma.
Please note that the military is looking for high school diploma graduates. If you present a GED certificate it will cause unnecessary complications in the enlistment process. The military has almost completely eliminated accepting GED certificate holders in all but the rarest of circumstances.
For Delayed Entry Program enlistees, if the homeschool student has not yet earned a high school diploma because he or she has not yet graduated, the recruiter will ask for other academic verification. But the homeschool student will not be considered officially enlisted and able to attend basic training until he or she has graduated and has received a high school diploma.
4. It must be clear to the recruiter that you, the parent, directed the education of your child. The military understands and accepts co-op programs if they were a supplement to your homeschool program.
If you used online courses for certain subjects, make sure that it is very clear that you the parent were the overseer of your student’s work and were using the online courses as part of your homeschool program. Graduates of online programs are able to enlist in the military, but it could cause unnecessary complications in the enlistment process if your student tried to enlist as a homeschool graduate but the military believes that he was really a graduate of an online program.
If you live in a state where homeschooling is legally considered to be a form of private education, for the purposes of military enlistment, you will want to tell the recruiter that you are homeschooling.
5. All students will be required to take the military’s enlistment test, the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). In the past, homeschool students needed to score at or above the 50th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) portion of the ASVAB, while public and private school graduates were required to score in the 30s. This discrepancy has been changed, so that all students, including homeschoolers, simply need to receive a passing score. The passing score is determined by each service branch and the needs of the military, but falls generally around the 35th percentile.
6. The education questions are only the beginning. The military has high moral, medical, and overall standards. It receives numerous applicants; therefore, the enlistment process is designed to weed out applicants in favor of those who the military believes will be the best fit.
The military is significantly downsizing, and it is becoming much more difficult to enlist in all branches. There are many people seeking enlistment and few positions open. The bottom line is the military understands that homeschoolers are legally guaranteed an equal opportunity to enlist, just like graduates of other schools.
If you have questions or run into any problems, please contact HSLDA at 540-338-5600.