06. July 2012 · Comments Off on A Quick Word About Joining the Service as a Single Parent · Categories: Family Matters in the Military · Tags: , , , , ,

Someone asked me recently about the military’s current policy on allowing single parents to enlist.

At this time, if you’re currently an unmarried parent and are wanting to join the military, you are only eligible for the Reserves. The thinking here isn’t hard to wrap your mind around. People whose status is ‘active duty’ are just that-active. There is no way a mother or father who is committed to 8-12 of basic training, or a strict technical training (after boot) can handle the responsibilities of parenthood simultaneously.

The next logical question is whether it’s possible to have a friend or relative care for the child during this time, but that’s also a no-go. The military doesn’t particularly care to assume the risk of mom or dad having an emergency come up during training due to improper, unqualified but well-meaning caretakers-the liability is too great, especially when there are so many other candidates that don’t necessarily bear the same risks. Harsh as this may sound, it’s true.

The next possible solution is a little bit in the gray area: assigning temporary custody to a relative or friend. There are 2 ways to achieve this:

1) Court-ordered relinquishment of custody. Full custody, unless the parent is still legally married, at which point, join custody would suffice. If you’re separated, but still married and in the divorce, it’s best to do this immediately, before the divorce is finalized. If this is not an option, and you go through the process of turning custody over to another relative, it still must be full custody, and military branches require a waiting time of 6 to 12 months. I’ll write more about this in the future, but as of now, the official stance of the military rules out single parents as eligible enlistment candidates.

2) Procure a waiver. They’re few and far between right now, since recruiters often disregard this as an option at all. It’s evidently an enormous amount of paperwork and still quite a liability for the military.