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Education week highlights services

Henry “Chick” Eagle, supervisory education services specialist, is on hand at the Fort Rucker Education Center in Bldg. 4502 to help Soldiers and spouses to reach their educational goals. (Photo by Jay Mann)

Henry “Chick” Eagle, supervisory education services specialist, is on hand at the Fort Rucker Education Center in Bldg. 4502 to help Soldiers and spouses to reach their educational goals. (Photo by Jay Mann)

Published: November 14, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 14, 2014) -- American Education Week runs Nov. 17-21 and the Army Continuing Education System wants Soldiers to know “Army Strong, Education Stronger.”

“American Education Week is a chance for us to highlight the importance of education to our Soldiers,” said Henry “Chick” Eagle, supervisory education services specialist. “We believe that education makes us all stronger.”

The Fort Rucker Education Center will host three days of events focused on helping Soldiers and family members obtain the education that will put them on the road to future success.

Nov. 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Bldg. 4502, Capt Keith A. Stampley, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University alumni, will share his experience completing an education while meeting military and family responsibilities. Lunch will be provided, so people planning on attending need to RSVP to 598-6232, as there will be limited seating.

Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Bldg. 5700, many Fort Rucker organizations and academic institution representatives will have information tables about their programs. They will discuss what educational, financial aid, guidance counseling and other programs are available.

Nov. 20, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Bldg. 4502, Troy University will host an open house. Soldiers, family and friends are invited to the Fort Rucker Education Center to meet with ACES and Troy staff members to learn about furthering their education goals.

“Working on your education while you are still in the military is extremely important,” said Eagle. “You will eventually need some credentials when you finally separate from the military.”

ACES works closely with the Soldier for Life program to help Soldiers continue their educational goals throughout their careers.

“Education helps you develop those credentials as you progress through your career in the military,” added Eagle. “A lot of Soldiers come into the Army specifically for the education benefits.”

As part of newcomers briefs, Soldiers can find an ACES Educational Flow at the education center that lines up with the Soldier For Life career progression. “Every Soldier needs to take advantage of this,” Eagle said.

“When Soldiers begin their Army careers, they start with assessments, their (Military Occupational Specialty), then they get their associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree,” said Eagle. “Then you have got the credentials, the experience in the Army and you are fully marketable when you leave the military.

“Civilian education can add to your promotion points while you are in the Army, as well,” he added. “This would make you more attractive for the next promotion.”

“Especially now with the competition in the military due to downsizing for retention and school availability,” said Randy Mcnally, education services specialist. “Even if the requirements do not say you need to have a degree, if everyone else does, the competition is that much harder. Education is playing more of a role in that.”

Even if Soldiers don’t know where to start, the center has many assessment tools to see where they stand, where they want to end up and how to get there, said Eagle.

“Some Soldiers will claim that they don’t have the time because of family matters and other stresses on their life, and they have to wait until they get out of the military,” said Eagle. “That’s fine, they can wait until they separate and use their G.I. Bill, which is an excellent program. That’s what the G.I. Bill was designed for. Soldiers would complete their commitment to the military and separate, then use that time after separation to develop their credentials and then they get the job.

“It’s complicated, though, if you have a family and other obligations,” he said. “You might not be able to just go to college and be supported entirely by the G.I. Bill.”

That is why the center staff works with every Soldier that comes in the door, wherever they are on their path, to try to make a plan for their educational goals, Eagle added.

“We hope Soldiers come down and talk with us, one of us will be here for them,” he said. “When a Soldier walks in we will see them as quickly as we can.”

“We have people come in with different types of awareness about what is available for them,” said Mcnally, “Some people know exactly what their goals are, but for others we can take the time to talk with them. We have assessment tools to help them decide where they want to go in their academic direction or their career direction. We are not just here to help them go to school – we are also here to help people in their military career and later on in their civilian career.”

Sometimes people are just looking for a civilian certification for a job they are already doing in the military, and sometimes people are looking to get a degree in something different than what they do, he said.

“We are pretty open. People come here with all different types of situations and our job is to understand that situation and move them forward,” added Mcnally.

“We help spouses, too,” said Eagle. “There are several ways spouses can get help with their educational goals. After a Soldier has been in the Army for six years, they can transfer their G.I. Bill to their spouse. The Soldier then has to serve an additional four years.”

Eagle also spoke about the My Career Advancement Account, saying that it is a workforce development program that provides up to $4,000 of financial assistance to eligible military spouses who are pursuing a license, certification or associate’s degree in a portable career field and occupation.

Spouses of service members on active duty in pay grades E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2 and O-1 to O-2 who can start and complete their coursework while their military sponsor is on Title 10 military orders, including spouses married to members of the National Guard and Reserve in these same pay grades, are eligible.

“The focus of the program is to help military spouses get credentials so they can get a job and when the service member moves and they have to move, as well, the spouse has credentials to get another job at the new location,” said Eagle. “So, it is focused on those transportable career areas.”

He also mentioned the Federal Application for Student Aid that is available to everyone who qualifies, including military spouses.

“You fill out the form, send it in, and the Department of Education determines what your need is and what types of programs they can provide,” said Eagle. “And, of course, there are thousands of scholarships out there. For example, Corvias here on post has some excellent scholarships for family members and there are many others out there, you just have to apply.

“Soldiers need to look seriously at educational opportunities while they are in the Army to prepare themselves for when they are eventually going to leave the Army,” he said.

“Every Soldier takes that uniform off for the last time,” added Mcnally. “The day to begin preparing for that time is today.”

Soldiers and family members interested in continuing education can visit the center in Bldg. 4502 or call 255-2378.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/138335/

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