COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a first-ever ceremony held at The Ohio State University, the Ohio Department of Education celebrated the members of the class of 2018 who are joining the U.S. military.

“Ohio salutes these recent graduates and we beam with pride as they take the first steps into their careers in the U.S. military,” said Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction. “In service to our country, opportunity of all kinds awaits them. We wish them well as they embark on this new journey.”

The dozens of recent graduates in attendance signed unofficial documents indicating their commitment to the military branch of their choice. Several representatives from the various branches spoke in support of Ohio’s new recruits.

“When these young men and women raised their right hands to take the oath, they publicly committed to defend our Constitution. They will join a rich heritage of selfless service to defend the freedoms we enjoy in our great nation,” said Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman, Ohio adjutant general. “I am honored to participate in this ceremony, and I wish each new enlistee a successful military career.”

In Ohio’s five-year strategic plan for education (Each Child, Our Future) passed earlier this week by the State Board of Education, serving in the military is one of four pathways for high school graduates identified in the state’s goal.

The Ohio Department of Education supports the state’s military families and veterans in several important ways. For veterans with honorable discharges and current service members, there are no fees for educator licenses. In addition, the Troops to Teachers program assists transitioning service members and veterans in beginning new careers as teachers in schools across Ohio.

Ohio also is one of 35 states involved in the Interstate Compact for Educational Opportunities for Military Children, which works to ensure military children are properly enrolled in schools, have eligibility for school activities and have assistance in meeting graduation requirements.

To recognize schools with a major commitment to serving military families, the Department recently created the Purple Star designation. Purple Star awardees receive a special Purple Star banner to display in their buildings.

In addition to the Purple Star, the Ohio Department of Education most recently launched the Ohio Network for Military Families and Veterans. The network provides an online hub of necessary information and relevant tools for principals, counselors, teachers and families.