December 13, 2005

Homeschool Graduates Now Considered "Preferred Enlistees" in All Four Branches of the Armed Services

After a long struggle, the military has now fully opened the door to homeschoolers. Homeschool graduates who desire a career with any of the four branches of the Armed Services are being treated as "preferred enlistees." This means that homeschool graduates who enlist in the military will be treated as Tier I candidates even though their formal status will remain Tier II. As a result of this change, homeschoolers will receive the same educational benefits, cash bonuses, and available positions in the Armed Services as any of their peers. Homeschool graduates are now able to compete on an equal footing with other types of graduates for the 80,000 positions in the Army, 30,000 in the Navy, 23,00 in the Marines, and 20,000 in the Air Force that need to be filled with new recruits annually.

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 for six years where homeschoolers were experimentally treated as "Tier I" candidates, which is the same status as high school graduates from the public school. Although the pilot program came to a close in the fall of 2004, HSLDA President Michael Smith and HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka met with the Assistant Secretary of Defense to keep the doors open for homeschoolers.

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. Ever since then, the Department of Defense, at the highest levels, has worked with HSLDA to resolve every local recruitment problem concerning homeschool graduates.

As a result of the pilot project and the January 2005 directive from the Department of Defense, hundreds of homeschoolers are serving our country faithfully in the Armed Services.

We recently announced that the Army has been pushing to open doors for homeschoolers. We have now verified that the other branches (Navy, Air Force, and Marines) are also offering the same benefits for homeschoolers as the Army; including cash bonuses, college funds, and availability of positions. The "preferred enlistment" status currently given to homeschool graduates enhances the Tier II category so that it is essentially equivalent to Tier I, which is given to high school graduates.

This is good news for homeschoolers, since they will not be treated as second class citizens when they seek to gain entry in any of the four armed services. Currently there is no discrimination being practiced through any formal policies in the military against homeschool graduates.

We expect the next defense bill, which is to be passed this year in Congress, to codify this arrangement to ensure that homeschoolers will continue to maintain preferred enlistment status and not be discriminated against when they seek entry into the military.

 Other Resources

GoArmy.com—Money for College & More Benefits

Homeschooling Thru High School—Military info