Commentary

August 24, 2012

My educational journey: How could I say no?

Chief Master Sgt. David E. Huerd
Hanscom AFB, Mass.

I joined the military when the Iron Curtain was still up. My plan was to serve my country abroad and get an education.

My first duty station was Templehof Central Airport, Berlin, Germany. I initially focused on getting through my first standardization evaluation and completing my Career Development Courses. Once those were completed, the thought of taking college courses was replaced by the many activities within the walled city.

A couple years later, I met a wonderful woman and we were married. Soon afterward, we started planning a family. The topic of college soon occupied our conversations; I wanted to be a better husband and father.

You must remember, this was a time when online education was not available, but we did have computers. I decided to pursue the courses necessary to complete my Community College of the Air Force degree. I completed the requirements in four years and it was worth the time I invested.

Speaking of investments, I pursued my degree when tuition assistance was at 75 percent, not the 100 percent we take advantage of today. My self-confidence increased after I completed my degree as a staff sergeant back in 1991.

We left Germany and headed back to the states. I spent the next 14 years taking different courses without focusing on a degree plan. I could not find a subject that interested me.

In 2005, stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., I was mentoring some of my Tactical Response Force members on the benefits and rewards of pursuing a CCAF degree and additional education. When one of my Airmen showed he was interested in getting a degree, I explained to him how I obtained mine.

He then asked, “Are you going to get another degree?”

How could I say no?

I headed to the education center and enrolled in an online school and focused on finishing my bachelor’s degree in security management. In the summer of 2009, two assignments and several deployments later, I completed the requirements for the degree. Once again, my self-confidence was boosted.

I took another break from school. A year later, while speaking to my youngest son about high school and college, the subject of my education came up again.

How could I say no?

I enrolled in an online school and started working on my master’s degree in homeland security. Now, I am halfway completed with this degree and glad to be attending school again.

The Air Force provides us the opportunity to continue our education at home station or in deployed locations, and I have taken classes in both environments. Tuition assistance provides the funding, and most locations provide you the resources to pursue your educational dreams.

I am still on my educational journey; it has taken me many years, and I continue to challenge myself.

It is never too late to start or continue a degree program. Once you get started, it is easy to keep going. Motivate yourself to take the first step. I did. How can you say no?




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