JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
Military life can be busy, but finding the time to take advantage of the many educational opportunities available to military members can set an individual up for long-term success.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s two education centers assist Department of Defense personnel, their families, and veterans in meeting personal and professional development goals through a variety of educational, training and testing programs.
Some of the resources they provide include degree programs, commissioning briefings and programs, GI bill education, tuition assistance, on-base colleges, testing and training, scholarships, grants and loans.
“Furthering your education is important in the growth of one’s mind,” said Roger Wilson, JBER education center chief of education services. “You don’t want to become stagnant in your mental growth. Education is the great leveling tool in life.”
Wilson said one of the most beneficial tools the education centers offer is their educational counseling.
“Our highly trained and friendly staff has decades of combined experience and provides direction in helping Airmen, Soldiers and families in achieving their educational goals,” he said.
Four colleges provide classroom-style courses at the JBER education centers, and all are available to both Airmen and Soldiers. Central Texas College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Wayland Baptist University and University of Alaska Anchorage offer a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.
“With as competitive as promotions are today, you really are behind the power curve and falling behind your peers if you’re not pursuing some type of post-secondary education,” said Glen Ranes, JBER Education Center education services officer. “We offer certificate programs, associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.”
Ranes said an extremely under-utilized resource is tuition assistance.
“The government will pay the first $250 per semester hour for up to 16 semester hours per year,” said Ranes. “If you’re not using it, you’re essentially throwing away $4,500 every year.”
Tuition assistance can be used for degrees up to and including master’s degrees.
The education centers counselors strive to prepare military members for their post-military careers.
“Most entry-level jobs require some level of experience or education,” said Ranes. “For Airmen who intend to complete only one term of service before leaving the military, a Community College of the Air Force degree is still beneficial. It shows a potential employer that the Airman has the skills and capability to learn and excel.
“The biggest mistake a lot of military members make is thinking they can get out of the military and automatically land a job in the career field they worked in while they served,” said Ranes. “If they don’t have the certification or if they don’t have the degree, they’re behind their competitors, even if they know the job. If you know what career field you want to work in post-military, do yourself a huge favor and start working on that certification before you leave the military.”