National Guard Boosting numbers with new academy.

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The Army National Guard is recruiting high school dropouts who will attend a new academy where they can earn a diploma and make them more productive members of society.

The Guard, in turn, hopes to expand the relatively small pool of qualified young men and women who meet service requirements.

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Recruiters in the 54 states and territories with Guard units have been working with schools to identify dropouts who would like to finish their education and join the service. They take the oath, go through basic training and then arrive at the Patriot Academy--located at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Outer in Indiana--where they spend anywhere from three to nine months finishing their high school education, said Col. Perry Sarver Jr., commandant of the school.

The idea was the brainchild of now retired Army Guard Director Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, who recognized that the approximately 1.2 million high school students who drop out every year were not only unqualified to join the Guard, but also less productive members of society.

"Let's get them high school diplomas, get them a job, make them more productive citizens," Sarver said.

The recruits are reenrolled in their hometown high schools, then transferred to the academy. Schools have the benefit of reducing their dropout rate. Students sent to the academy take high school and military courses, and in some cases, do college-level work...

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