An inspirational letter on education to all Veterans
- 129 Views
- November 11, 2020
- Undergraduate Students
By Col. Jean M. Anderson
Chief, Army Medical Specialist Corps, US Army Reserves
Daemen College, Physical Therapy, ’92
Veterans Day 2020 will be different in so many ways from prior years. Although we may not be able to participate in many in-person celebrations, the sentiment is still the same.
I would personally like to start by saying a huge, “thank you” for all those veterans out there who have served or are serving our country currently. You have chosen a hard path to selflessly guarantee the freedoms that we all enjoy as Americans. Your sacrifices are greatly appreciated.
I know that many of you are pondering what life will look like after the completion of your service. I personally counsel many officers, enlisted, and even high schoolers considering military service. Although much of the mentoring is personalized depending on individual circumstances, a consistent theme is continuing education.
You have so many options available to you. Many of you have earned education benefits through the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to include the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Some of those benefits have time limits.
If you are like most veterans, your service has changed you in many ways. Some vets did not enjoy their high school education years, some did well in their education, and some continued their education while in the service.
Regardless of your early years and experiences, you likely matured during your time in the service and developed many intangible skills sets that you may not even recognize. Your ability to manage time, prioritize tasks, accomplish missions, work well within teams, and lead your peers and subordinates has set you up perfectly to continue your education.
Some of you may have felt limited in your military career choices. Some of you may be struggling to translate your military experiences to civilian job opportunities. For many of you, I highly recommend pursuing additional education after your departure from the military. So many veterans excel in college directly due to the maturity and skills gained during their service.
Whether you invest in a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate, or professional degree, you will increase your civilian career opportunities and earning potential.
Some of you may even consider re-entering the military in a different capacity as a commissioned officer. Either way, you will continue to grow as a person and shape our country and world.
My experiences at Daemen College shaped my life and military career. I had only completed my Army basic training prior to my freshman year in college and attended my job training in the summer between freshman and sophomore years. I stumbled into ROTC as a freshman and transferred to Daemen with a scholarship. I completed my bachelor’s degree at Daemen while also participating in ROTC at Canisius College.
Daemen provided me the education to work in the Army in the medical field, but my ROTC training at Canisius also prepared me as a leader. I have been blessed to work in a variety of jobs while serving in the Active Army as well as Army Reserves. I was also able to use education benefits to complete my master’s degree during my service. As I approach retirement from the Army Reserves, it is easy to reflect on how my education not only benefited me, but the Soldiers that I have served over the years. I not only provided patient care; I led clinics, taught leadership and Army doctrine to officers, and worked at the strategic level to increase opportunities for fellow Soldiers. My confidence and abilities can be directly attributed to my education and training.
Finally, I would like to conclude with a challenge to each of you. As veterans, we often have a unique viewpoint and experiences. Although you have already provided many years of service to our country, we have a responsibility to continue to shape our youth. Consider mentoring local high schoolers, fellow college students, and younger family members. Some of them may choose military service, but that is not the main goal.
We can guide others to use their talents to benefit their employers, family, schools, and communities.
I encourage you to lead by example. Our country can continue to the lead the world as long as our citizens work to serve each other and leave the world a little better.
Again, thank you for your service and please stay safe and healthy on this Veterans Day!