Life after the military: A Soldier’s Story About Her Pursuit for a DegreeUpdated: March 23, 2021
One thing I always preached to Soldiers when I was an academic instructor in the military was to enhance the marketable skills obtained from the military with a degree. In today’s economy, employment is scarce and is very competitive.
In the early 90s, for the first four years of my military career, I was a military personnel finance and administrative assistant. My supervisor at the time stressed that I should attend a reputable college to enhance my military job training skills. I decided to take up business administration at Brookdale Community College located in a small suburban town of New Jersey.
Due to the fact I had orders overseas I was not able to complete my degree. Instead, I would take one class, two to three months at a time. However, it was still one of my long-term goals to obtain an associate degree.
After serving in the Army for nine years, I was awarded the opportunity to change my military occupational skill to become a military analyst. An analyst’s job entails a lot of critical thinking and putting pieces together to solve problems. Despite the fact that the occupation was stressful and very fast paced, I learned to get used to the demands of the job because I realized it would save lives.
While I was working as an analyst, I enrolled in a local community college program to further my studies in Military-Homeland Security Operations. Some of the courses I took under my previous business administration program were transferrable military credits and I earned an associate degree in the summer of 2009.
The military tuition assistance program paid for the entire program because I was still on active duty. Therefore, I did not have to use any of my GI Bill benefits. When I left the military, I wanted to pursue a career in criminal justice to work as a crime analyst, criminalist, police officer, investigator, or perhaps even work as a federal law enforcement agent.
Since I was undecided, the first step I made was to enroll at a four year University to begin pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The Montgomery GI Bill program was reformed by Congress to the Post 911 GI Bill®.
The new GI bill program provided more college and stipend benefits for military service members who served on or after Sept. 11, 2001. Therefore, I was able to take advantage of a full four-year scholarship degree program to pursue my goals. I am now finally in my last year of studies and working with both the Wounded Warrior Project and Vocational Rehabilitation program employment readiness counselor to assist me with my job placement needs.