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Military Educational Benefits: What You Need to Know
By Wes O’Donnell
U.S. Army and Air Force Veteran, American Military University
Your success as an individual is a top priority for the U.S. military. Leaders want servicemembers who can both perform and think in a crisis.
Nearly every U.S. military base and post around the world offers key education resources, benefits and even education centers. These education centers also have Education Service Officers (ESOs) who are counselors you can talk to about your career goals.
How Your Education Service Officer Help You
The ESOs and their staff are there to provide the best resources and guidance for using your educational benefits and choosing a school that meets your unique needs. Most base education centers have information about local, national and online colleges attended by active-duty military and veterans.
The staff are there to provide advice, answer questions and help you to navigate all of the many options available as you prepare a long-term education plan. Even if college is on the distant horizon, you should learn all about the educational benefits you’ve earned and develop your long-term strategy before you transition out of military service.
It’s critical that you talk with your ESO; he or she will help you with the rules and requirements for applying your educational benefits. Incoming enlistees and parents may also contact their local ESO (if a base is nearby) to ask questions. Your recruiter can provide you with information and refer you to an ESO.
What Are the Typical Educational Benefits for Active-Duty Servicemembers?
Among your active-duty educational benefits are:
1. Tuition Assistance (TA)
Nearly all military members qualify for tuition assistance. However, specific requirements vary by branch of service and your ESO will provide you with the information you need.
2. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Testing
A CLEP exam is a test on the knowledge that you may already know and helps you earn core college credits. Many on-base education offices have testing facilities for your use.
3. Career Counseling
An ESO’s only goal is to help you succeed. ESOs will ask you what you are truly passionate about, help you construct an educational plan and answer your questions. In addition, they have access to all of the documents and forms you may need.
4. Assistance with Grants
Even though you’re on active duty, you may still qualify for certain educational grants. Your base education center can assist you.
Chance Favors the Prepared Mind
Use your educational benefits to get a head start on your post-military life. The additional education may also help you become more promotable while you serve. A free or discounted education is one of the key benefits of military service. Take advantage of base education centers to get the most out of this incredible benefit!