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NEWS | Feb. 6, 2014

Force management: Education services available

By Senior Airman Teresa Aber 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As the Air Force continues to work to meet personnel reduction requirements, Service members can still find opportunities to excel by utilizing their education benefits. At Joint Base Langley-Eustis, many educational opportunities are offered for Service members.

"There are a lot of unknowns for many Service members. Many don't know what they will be doing in a few months' or years' time," said Crystal Aldrich-Jenkins, 633rd Force Support Squadron education services specialist. "Whether they stay in the military or get out, there's no way getting an education can negatively affect their career, so it's important to take advantage while they can."

For Service members separating voluntarily or via retention boards, the most common education benefits are the Post-9/11 and Montgomery G.I. Bills.

The Montgomery G.I. Bill can be used for undergraduate and graduate degree programs at colleges and universities, certificate programs, on-the-job training, apprenticeship training, flight training, and non-college degree courses. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill can only be used for programs at a college or university.

"Service members have to do research," said Aldrich-Jenkins. "Each person's situation and plans are different, so they have to figure out what options are available and make the best decision."

For Service members not meeting retention boards this year, having additional education in their records may help them achieve promotion goals in the future. For active duty Service members, programs like Military Tuition Assistance are available to take courses during scheduled semesters.

The annual fiscal cap for MilTA is $4,500 and based on the date of the semester begins. For those who reach the cap or have classes that cost more than $250 per semester hour or $166.67 per quarter hour, other resources can be used to attend courses, such as the Post-9/11 or the Montgomery G.I. Bills.

Active duty Service members can utilize MilTA for online courses, local college and university courses, and classes provided at the Education Center through Saint Leo University.

Whether a Service member separates 20 days or 20 years in the future, it is important for them to ensure their education records are updated with any credits or courses they have taken along the way, to avoid having to retake courses and to set themselves up for success.

"[Individuals should] make sure their records are updated as they go along because it can be an extended process to update information months or years down the road," said Aldrich-Jenkins. "Compare your formal training record with what is listed in your personnel file and on your school progress reports.

"You don't want to find out too late that something was missing from your record if you are facing a retention board, because that could be the deciding factor between you and another individual."

At first glance, separating may seem like a confusing process, but the Langley Air Force Base and Ft. Eustis Education Centers' staffs are available to assist Airmen and Soldiers in getting the information they need to continue their education and prepare themselves for the future.

For more information regarding educational services, contact the Langley AFB Education Center at 764-2962 or the Ft. Eustis Education Center at 878-3705 or 878-3613.