Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Preparing Students for Life After the Military

When someone’s military service is coming to an end, the question of “what’s next” starts to linger in the back of their mind. Since they’ve faced tougher situations, they tell themselves it will be an easy transition to handle. However, the anxiety tells them they are about to enter an entirely different, unfamiliar territory — civilian life.

While military instructors prepare people for military life, it is college instructors that will prepare people for careers after the military. Even after 30 years, or more, in the military, someone still has plenty of time to pursue a second career, and Rio Salado College is online and on site preparing students for these careers.

Tech. Sgt. Mitzi Eggers, of the 162nd fighter Wing in Tucson, is one of the many students who is preparing for a second career after she retires from the Air National Guard.
“I will earn a Level I Certificate of Completion in Chemical Dependency in November,” said Eggers, who also has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. “I have taken classes through two other colleges, but their Web sites didn’t function well as Rio Salado’s site, and there was very little support from the instructors.”

“Rio’s online courses are managed very well, it’s understandable, and there is plenty of instructor support,” she said. I’m very pleased with Rio Salado and plan to continue my schooling with them.”

The Certificate of Completion in Chemical Dependency Program prepares individuals with the skills necessary to become a chemical dependency case manager, as well as provide continuing education to current chemical dependency professionals. Level I courses focus on theories and techniques, ethics, communication skills, interviewing and documentation, and recovery and relapse.

Most military students have busy schedules and many students find online classes to be a good option for earning a degree. As a single mother with two toddlers Eggers definitely falls into this category.

“Between time at the air force base and caring for two children at home there is no room for classes at a traditional college,” said Eggers. “Students in the military don’t have as much free time as other people. Our schedules can be erratic, and we need the flexibility online classes offer us.”

Besides flexibility, military students can get their education nearly paid in full.
“The Air Force Tuition Assistance program pays 100 percent of an Airman’s tuition cost for college courses up to $4,500 per fiscal year,” said Bill Bristol, Rio Salado College’s coordinator of instructional programs at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale. “We provide students with information about financial aid and scholarship programs, too.”

“My only expenses are books and a $15 registration fee,” said Eggers. “Anyone can afford this, and everyone in the military should be taking advantage of this opportunity. The military prepares us for a lot, but there is a whole second life after the military to consider.”