Having strong support of the military is essentially a part of living in East Texas.
The community shows its support in many ways, such as sending care packages, letters, cards, games, and prayers to local men and women who are in the military and stationed overseas. East Texans also show support for military personnel when they return, often gathering together to welcome them back home.
An example of this happened recently as Chuck Smith, assistant athletic director at Tyler Junior College, returned to Barksdale Air Force Base after seven months in Iraq. His family and friends, plus well-wishers and members of the TJC Athletic Department surprised him by meeting him at the airport.
Once home veterans have many options open to them. One of these options includes the GI Bill.
According to http://www.military.com, the GI Bill is “an education benefit earned by Active Duty, Selected
Reserve and National Guard service members. The benefit is designed to help service members and eligible veterans cover the costs associated with getting an education or training. The GI Bill has several programs and each is administrated differently- depending on a person’s eligibility and duty status.”
Daniel Hegg is coordinator of veteran affairs at TJC.
He helps advise the military personnel returning to school.
“These guys and girls are just like anyone else, except they have had more life experience,” said Hegg.
“Most of them joined the military straight out of high school, so getting a college education is important. For these guys, it can help them out later in life because employers can see that they have military training along with a college education,” he continued.
Jeremy McGee, a student at TJC, agrees.
“I wanted to set myself for success, not failure,” said McGee.
McGee served in the military for five years and has been home for one year.
Charles Higgins is also a student at TJC who has been in active duty in the military for nine years. He has been home since September 2007.
“I wanted to get a job where I could use my mind and not my body. I’m hoping to get a degree in electrical engineering.”
He also expressed his gratitude towards the GI Bill, saying, “It covers all my college expenses. If I were at any other university, it probably would have only covered my tuition. But at TJC, I’m able to pay for tuition, books, and any other costs.”
For more information on how to apply for the GI Bill at http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/How_to_Apply.htm.