February 11, 2000


Army Expands Educational Opportunities For Soldiers, Recruits

Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and Sergeant Major of the Army Robert E. Hall announced the Army's two new pilot programs designed to increase educational opportunities for Americans who serve in the Army and to open up new recruiting markets. They were joined during the announcement by Secretary of Education Richard Riley and by General Colin Powell, head of America's Promise, a national organization dedicated to building and strengthening the character and competence of America's youth.

The two pilot programs are "GED Plus - the Army's High School Completion Program" and "College First." Both will be offered to recruits coming into the Army on or after Feb. 3 and will run through Sept. 30, 2003.

"'GED Plus, the Army's High School Completion Program' and `College First' are in keeping with the Army tradition of providing outstanding military and civilian training opportunities to soldiers and offering America's youth a proven route to success, teamwork and self-improvement," Caldera said. "We expect these two programs to expand significantly the benefits we offer the quality young men and women who serve this nation with pride."

Riley applauded the initiation of these pilot programs. "These creative new policies afford motivated and qualified individuals an opportunity to continue their education, open doors to a more promising future, and serve their country. I congratulate Secretary Caldera for this innovation."

"GED Plus - the Army's High School Completion Program" will be open to as many as 6,000 non-high school graduates annually — about 4,000 active component and 2,000 reserve component recruits — who score in the top half of the country on the Armed Forces Qualification Tests and who score in the top 75 percent on the Assessment of Individual Motivation test. The Army will sponsor applicants to complete an attendance-based General Educational Development program while the individual serves in the Army's Delayed Entry Program.

The American Council on Education, ACE — the nation's umbrella organization for higher education that oversees GED testing — praised this new initiative by the Army.

"The U.S. Army has a long and proud history of expanding educational opportunity through the use of the GED program," said ACE President Stanley O. Ikenberry. "But this new combination of `GED Plus' and `College First' will greatly enhance educational access. We applaud Secretary Caldera and Secretary Riley for their vision and leadership. Thousands of men and women who are serving our country stand to benefit from such creative thinking."

"College First" offers college-bound men and women the option to enlist, attend college, then serve a term of service in the U.S. Army. The Army is allowing participants to attend college for up to two years while the individual serves in the Army's Delayed Entry Program or in a drilling reserve status. Individuals in the Delayed Entry Program also will receive a monthly allowance of $150.

"We want to expand Army recruiting markets by identifying more people with high indicators of retention, quality and trainability," Caldera said. "Today's force requires highly motivated, skilled, and top-quality soldiers to maintain readiness — these programs answer that need."

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