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Education fair provides education, opportunities for Soldiers

Soldiers, families and community members met with academic institution and post organization representatives at the 2014 Education Fair Nov. 19. (Photo by Jay Mann)

Soldiers, families and community members met with academic institution and post organization representatives at the 2014 Education Fair Nov. 19. (Photo by Jay Mann)

Published: November 28, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 28, 2014) -- As part of American Education Week, many Fort Rucker organizations and academic institution representatives held an Education Fair Nov. 19 for Soldiers, family members and the community at the Soldier Service Center.

“The great thing about this event is that everyone is together, so Soldiers can stop by one place to find out everything that is available to them,” said Randy Mcnally, education service specialist. “Along with the education center, we also have representatives from the Veterans Administration and Soldier for Life out today.”

Representatives from Central Texas College, Troy University, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University and Enterprise State Community College were also there to explain what they can provide for attendees.

“We hope the whole community will gain something from this,” said Mcnally, “Soldiers can speak with someone about their educational goals, their VA benefits, have their Soldier for Life transitional questions answered, and ask (transition assistance) related questions. Family members, retirees and veterans can speak directly with representatives and have their questions answered.

“We hope we can help guide people to use their benefits in a productive way to improve and better their future, for themselves and their families,” he added. “The theme this year is Army Strong, Education Stronger. I think that really reflects how the Army perceives the benefit of education, not only to the Soldier, but to the whole Army community.

“It makes us a stronger and more focused military,” added Mcnally. “Education is very important. It is the backbone of any community, and the Army is no different.”

He added that education can help Soldiers now, and it can also help them later.

“Every one of these Soldiers is going to take the uniform off for the last time someday,” said Mcnally, “Preparing for that needs to start today. It is very sad for me to see Soldiers come in with 18 years in the Army, who have served their country to the upmost, been deployed multiple times, with the sacrifices to themselves and their families, with no plan for their career post-Army. Soldiers coming in to the military now need to begin looking at retirement today, when they first start their Army career.”

And while it is certainly best to start early, learning is a “life-long process,” he added.

“Learning is not just a time period event where I go to school, I get my diploma and now I’m done. Learning is a lifetime concept, Mcnally said. “Today’s event is to introduce the community to the avenues available to them to continue learning and the benefits they have already earned that will help them to do this.

“Traditionally, education has been seen as a ‘when I need it’ type of experience,” said Mcnally. “Meaning people don’t really think about getting training or education until it becomes a requirement. We are trying to reverse that mindset by getting people to start expanding their education before they need to. That way, when it is a requirement they already have it.

“Soldiers should visit the education center every time they get to a new duty station and see what they can do now,” he said. “The Soldier for Life Program begins when you enter the military, not when you get out.”

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

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/139156/

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