Time to Take a Stand for Military Children in Georgia

     Our military children have to face many challenges, and one of the hardest is moving and having to start all over in a new school.  In the state of Georgia, this is a hard process for military families.  I am one of these stories…

    We have been a military family for 15 years, and my oldest daughter, who is eleven, has already attended three different schools.  This past summer, we moved to Georgia, right outside Atlanta, where my husband has been assigned for recruiting duty.  We were excited at the prospect of moving to Georgia since we would be closer to family.  Little did we know of the challenges that we would face, and most of all, our daughter.

    We moved from Fort Eustis, Virginia around May 1st.  My husband was required to be in Atlanta around May 12th. Once we arrived we were staying in a hotel while we waited for the government housing program to help us find a home.  This proved to be a difficult process and we remained in the hotel longer than we would have liked to, approximately 30 days.  Once we did finally find a home, as soon as I had the address I raced to the elementary school to get my daughter enrolled so she could finish her fifth grade year. 

     When we arrived, I was shocked at how the staff really had no idea how to proceed with my daughter.  I had all of her report cards from her old elementary school at Fort Eustis.  I was never able to get her records from the elementary school at Fort Eustis but I gave the elementary school in Georgia all of the school’s contact information in Virginia so they could contact her last school.  I had her birth certificate and her shot records.  This is when I was hit with my second shocker.  My daughter would have to have her records transferred onto a Georgia immunization form.  This would be the only way to get her enrolled.  I had just found a home, and now I was going to have to race to contact TriCare and find a doctor here in Georgia to transfer her records onto some special form.  I could not believe what I was hearing, when I heard my third shocker, there was only 2 weeks left of school in Georgia. 

     I wanted to cry as I walked away from that initial meeting with the elementary school.  How could things be so different in Georgia?  We had never had any problems enrolling our daughter in school, not even in Germany!  That’s when I put on my military spouse face and got to work.  I immediately tried to contact the School Liaison Officer at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.  I knew the base was scheduled to close in less than thirty days but I was pulling for resources and for help. 

     This is when I found out that the state of Georgia was not a part of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.  States can sign onto this compact to help military children ease the transition into new schools when they move across state lines.  You can learn more about the Interstate Compact at http://www.mic3.net . Georgia is one of a small handful of states that have not signed onto this compact, yet Georgia serves a significant amount of military families. 

     To finish my story, I did get my daughter into a doctor, and they did transfer her shot records onto the Georgia form, and I was able to get her enrolled into school.  She only had to go for a week and I never was able to find out if her new school obtained any records from the school in Virginia.  To this day, she has never received a final report card for her fifth grade year.  She transferred from the elementary school to the middle school fairly smoothly. 

    I am just one of many stories out there from military families who have spent time in Georgia.  It is time to take a stand and urge Georgia legislatures to sign onto the Interstate Compact.  Is it not hard enough that military families have to constantly move?  Why make it harder for us to enroll our children into school?  Blue Star Families and other military organizations are coming together to bring change to Georgia, and I am asking you to help other military families so they don’t have to endure these same hardships. Have you had a similar experience in Georgia?  You can share your personal story today by emailing GAFtBenning@BlueStarFam.org .  Be sure to spread the word because together we can achieve change!

Janet
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