By Jodi Witt
USAREC Public Affairs
July 05, 2017
FORT KNOX, Ky. - The Dallas Recruiting Company commander led the charge in creating the framework for two state-level educational initiatives affecting half of the 5th Recruiting Brigade's footprint for the upcoming school year.
The Texas legislature outreach program affords students the opportunity to receive up to four excused absences from school when pursuing enlistment in any branch of the armed services or the Texas National Guard and the opportunity to take the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery and consult with a military recruiter respectively.
Senate Bill 1152 specifically allows students the chance to learn about what military service can provide while excusing the student from school. Students will be given a reasonable amount of time to make up the school work they may have missed.
This bill also requires schools to develop plans for verifying the student's absence while they pursue activities related to military enlistment before Oct. 1, 2017.
SB 1843 mandates high schools in Texas offer the ASVAB Career Exploration Program or a similar vocational aptitude test. Current federal law for the ASVAB CEP has an opt-in for schools to offer it and an opt-in for students to take it, but SB 1843 ensures schools offer the test to all students across Texas.
Additionally, SB 1843 provides a means for schools to opt-out of offering the ASVAB CEP to their students if they provide another aptitude test meeting certain criteria. The alternative aptitude test must assess aptitude for success without college, be free to administer, require minimal support and training from school faculty, and provide a professional interpretation of the results.
Also, there is a grandfather clause to allow schools using non-compliant aptitude tests to complete their contractual obligations before offering the ASVAB CEP.
"This concept grew out of discussions with my company 1st Sgt. Joshua Morrison, about utilizing community leader recognition to mitigate apathy losses among our Future Soldiers," said Capt. Kenneth Kovach, Dallas Recruiting Company commander.
But after recognizing the need to take action, Kovach recognized the need to improve recruiters' ability to identify qualified men and women for service with the United States Army and Army Reserve. This put the plan in motion, and he began reaching out to Dallas area legislators to recognize their constituents' decision to join the Army through letters, certificates and public recognition.
"The connections with community partners grew beyond Dallas company's area of operations through references to legislators who were veterans themselves or supported military causes," Kovach said. "This effort was joint across multiple branches and components as well as bipartisan between the legislators, which helped increase the momentum as the legislation took shape."
Eventually, Kovach met with 46 representatives and 16 senators to discuss the virtues of these bills and how they can benefit students across Texas. Post-secondary job placement, fiscal responsibility for schools, and the ability for students and parents to make informed decisions after high school were some of the topics covered during these meetings.
"During the meetings with the legislators, I would constantly get asked "how does this affect my constituents' or "what are the schools doing in my district now?,'" Kovach said.
He worked with the battalion education services specialist to create a spreadsheet using data from the battalion school directory report on force structure/address/zip code/realignment, ASVAB monthly report, and the Texas legislature district boundaries. Kovach said it "was a long and tedious process to complete, but assisted with painting a better picture for legislators during committee hearings."
Data from the education services specialists in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City recruiting battalions supported Kovach's efforts. The bills benefit four battalions and 24 companies in USAREC.