My GI Bill Story
By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.
Like many Veterans, I enlisted because I wanted to improve my life. When I got out of the military, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Using my Veteran education benefits to earn a bachelor’s degree was supposed to be the next phase for my life. But I was newly married, worried about money, and felt that I could jump right into a successful career. So, I decided to get a job.
I went to work as a security guard. Because of my military experience, I was hired as a supervisor, and was quickly promoted to management. I made decent money. But I disliked what I was doing. After a time, I again found myself longing for the “something better” that I had enlisted for. At my wife’s urging, I quit my job and went back to school.
I was thirty years old when I finally started using my Veteran education benefits. I will admit that the Post-9/11 GI Bill is not ideal for everyone. You only have 36 months to complete your degree or program. Having already earned my AA, all of my general education classes were already completed, making the Post9/11GI Bill perfect for me. You also only get paid while you are actively enrolled in classes at your Veteran schools. I went to a small public school, so for me this meant summers and winter breaks without getting my monthly housing allowance. My wife and I were able to live comfortably because she had a full-time job, and I still worked nights and weekends as an armed security officer.
Any Veteran who is considering using the Post-9/11 GI Bill should consider how long their desired education plan will take, and how they will make ends meet during semester breaks. Veterans should also make sure that their desired school is a Veteran-friendly school. I attended California State University Channel Islands, a Veteran-friendly school, located in Camarillo, CA.
Ten years after I graduated from community college, after five years in the Navy and five more spent working and then working while going to school, I completed my BA in English. My degree and military background helped me get my job at MilitaryConnection.com, where I am writing for a living. I feel that I am finally in a place where I’m doing what I love and helping others at the same time. The road wasn’t easy, and it isn’t finished, but I feel like I’m finally doing “something better.”
Please read all six installments in this series of articles that are designed to help Veterans get the most out of their Veteran education benefits, and find their well-deserved “something better”.