Navy Recognizes SEAL Recruit’s Homeschool Diploma
In December 2007, Home School Legal Defense Association received word that the United States Navy had finally enlisted North Carolina homeschool graduate Brandon Diaz as its newest SEAL. This much-desired outcome followed on the heels of one last phone call to the Navy from Jeremiah Lorrig, deputy director of HSLDA’s Federal Relations Department.
Brandon Diaz helped effect a homeschool-friendly change to U.S. Navy policy.
Brandon’s dream to serve his country as a Navy SEAL first began to hit roadblocks in August 2007. Although Brandon was considered a good candidate for enlistment, the Navy told Jeremiah it could not accept Brandon because as a homeschool graduate, he had tested out of and skipped 8th grade. Entrenched Navy policy required homeschool graduates to have attended school for 12 years. Navy recruiters, commanders, and education specialists all informed HSLDA that this requirement could not be changed because it allowed the Navy to verify that homeschool graduates were not high school dropouts.
After talking with HSLDA, the recruiters said that Brandon could enlist and receive his full signing bonus of $40,000 if he took the General Educational Development test (GED). Unfortunately, taking the GED would classify Brandon as a high school dropout, even though he had graduated from his family’s homeschool.
Although it appeared that Brandon had no other option, he and HSLDA refused to give up. Brandon had endured so much that even his recruiting officer said that he personally would have forgotten the whole idea of joining the military. Brandon’s mother, Angela Diaz, voiced a different perspective: “Maybe it was God teaching him something,” she said. She felt that struggling for this dream was a valuable lesson that God was using to build Brandon’s character.
Finally, Jeremiah called a high-ranking Navy education policymaker. After reviewing Brandon’s case, the official agreed that the Navy’s policy requiring 12 years of homeschooling was too restrictive. He determined that the Diaz family’s HSLDA membership gave their son credibility as a legitimate homeschooler.
Brandon was able to enlist and receive his full signing bonus without taking the GED. HSLDA applauds Brandon for his perseverance in pursuing his dream, and the U.S. Navy for being willing to change its policy.
|About the author
Will Estrada is HSLDA’s director of federal relations.