Advice for Moms of Military-Bound Homeschoolers

Our Cousin Ticia Messing shares advice for moms of military-bound homeschoolers.

Advice for Moms of Military-Bound Homeschoolers

Advice for Moms of Military-Bound Homeschoolers

Our Cousin Ticia Messing’s first homeschool graduate headed off the the military this summer. She agreed to share what she has learned about preparing teens for military careers.

Ticia and her son’s story

My son left for the army in July. I am insanely proud of him. I encouraged him in this decision because it aligned with his long-term life interests and goals. However, when I encouraged him, it did not occur to me what my mother’s heart would go through. 

Suddenly I realized that when he left it would be forever

I had spent eighteen years preparing for the gradual change of college. When your child leaves for college they are gone a semester at a time. Then they return between semesters, and for random weekends to visit. However, when your child joins the army, they do not have come home. So I began to prepare my heart and my family for the changes. 

Know the timelines and what must happen to prepare.

We are not a military family, so I had no idea what was going into this. I would come to church and share my prayer requests for him with my fellow youth leaders, and all of the military vet volunteers, which was a rather large number of them, would all knowingly nod their heads and repeat an acronym I had never heard before. 

Here are the things I learned before your child heads off to Basic Training: 

  • Your child will take a standardized test, ASVAB, to figure out what jobs in the army they are eligible for. The higher the score, the more jobs available to them. 

    • BTW- If your teen will need to take an SAT, our Cousin Natalie Mack (a military spouse who is a guide for military homeschooling families) shared: https://www.march2success.com/ is a free program that the US Army has made available for anyone who needs SAT prep as well as ASVAB prep. The higher you score on the ASVAB, the more job opportunities you can be selected for in the military, any branch, not solely for the Army. For those who desire to serve by applying to one of the MSAs, the process is completely different.
      • Natalie Mack does a lot of work with parents getting ready to send their homeschool grads to the military, if you have any questions.
  • There will be an overnight physical, called MEPS. (No, I still do not know what that stands for.) You drop your child off at the recruiter’s office and he is driven to a nearby base. This physical determines if he is healthy enough to join the military. 

  • Also, there are also lots of times they will be called in to the recruiter’s office to fill out random paper work or other things. (BTW- Check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with a military recruiter about what the military is looking for– and homeschool dad.)  

  • Your recruit is expected to report to the recruiter’s office the day before his ship out date. So once you have that date, mentally remove one day. This helps you prepare mentally.

  • The army is late, you must be on time, so if he is told to come at 04:00, do not count on the bus to take him to be on time. However, you probably do not want to wait with your teen for the bus to arrive. Instead, say a short goodby, then head out. This will make things easier on your heart and your soldier who has to wait awkwardly with you. (That can be hard for heavy equipment moms!)

  • Most bases for basic training have a family support group on Facebook. Once you know where your child is going look up that group and join. You will find out so much information that will ease your heart. 

Enjoy the time with your child 

Once my son decided for sure he wanted to head off to the army, we started planning some things and making lists. Do this several months in advance, just in case one of your teen’s requests takes more time to organize. (This is a good time for field trips that you had been putting off.)

Time will fly much faster than you expect

We sat down and made a list of things he wanted to do before heading off for Basic Training.

  • Some were fairly simple, a movie he wanted to see or a field trip he wanted to go on.
  • Others would take more planning.
    • He wanted to go on a vacation with his aunt and uncle one last time before heading off. That required planning with another family and making sure we had the money to do that. 

He also wanted to plan special events with different groups before leaving.

  • He has long organized Nerf events for our homeschool co-op, so he made sure to plan one last event before he left.
  • Also, he made a point to plan a board game day with them. 
  • Less than a week before we planned a going away party, but we sent out invitations over a month in advance. That way people would be able to clear their schedules.

We planned some special events with nearby extended family.

  • Then the last weekend before leaving we planned a family weekend.
  • Also, we planned out several events that he enjoyed with us a family.
  • Always a favorite past-times, watched movies together, played board games, played some D&D. 

Go on some special field trips.

About a month before he left, I sat down with him and asked what meals he would like to make sure I cooked before he left.

Also, I asked if there were special places he wanted to eat? 

  • So we cooked a turkey in June, and about a week later we cooked a ham.
  • We got his favorite snacks.
  • The morning before he left we went out to eat at the restaurant of his choosing. 

Guard your heart 

Know your triggers during that last month or so. 

For the most part I was fine, I knew it was going to be hard, but at the same time I knew I would be okay.

For instance, a few months before he left, my husband got in a car wreck, and we had to buy a new car. Knowing we would no longer need to house five adults in a car, we realized we could buy a smaller car. For some reason, that left me bawling for a good twenty minutes as I thought about it. 

Other people’s sympathy sent me into spates of crying. I learned to control that when my son was present, but when it was friends or my husband I cried, quite a lot. 

It’s going to be hard, but work to guard your heart during that last day. You do not want your recruit’s last day to be of his mom crying. 

While at Basic Training your recruit will be able to call and let you know he arrived.

Then they will usually get a weekly phone call sometime on Sunday. We gathered everyone around my phone on speaker and enjoyed talking to him. 

If you have a homeschooler who will be joining the military, it is going to be hard. However, you will be so proud of your teens and all he will do. 

Check out Ticia’s encouraging blogs and resources at Adventures in a Messy Life.

Advice for moms of military-bound homeschoolers

 

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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