How Do You Send a Troubled Teen to Military School for Free?

Teens who have been in minor trouble with the law or who have behavioral issues have been found to benefit by volunteering in military-based programs, such as the boot camp at Fort Dix and the Freestate ChalleNGe [correct spelling] Academy at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Set up by the New Jersey National Guard in 1993, the Fort Dix educational program for troubled youth is designed to help young women and men, between 16 and 18, who have been expelled or who have dropped out of school; New Jersey cadets who take part in the free program are part of a 100 percent boot camp process according to Samuel L. Hayes Jr., the program's deputy director. Applicants are given haircuts and issued military-style uniforms.

Students who have dropped out of high school and who are aged 16 to 18 can also obtain a second chance for an education at the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy in Maryland. Cadets voluntarily take part in a 17-month residential program that is sponsored and manned by the Maryland National Guard.

Bill Anderson, who oversees recruitment, says "We choose teens [who] have a willingness to . . . make a change in their lives." Students prepare for their GED and the ASVAB, or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Skills such as leadership, money management and career development are also emphasized. Wake-up is at 5:30 a.m., and lights out is scheduled for 9 p.m. each evening.