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Going above-beyond professional military education

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The offer to pursue personal education to expand professional growth is a cornerstone of the education office here. Making time and taking advantage of these benefits should be every Airman’s cornerstone as well.

Typically in a 20-year career, more than $90,000 goes to waste because these benefits are not utilized.

Education in today’s world is vital in obtaining a job once an Airman transitions out of the military. Many service members think it’s something they can get later.

“Airmen look at education and see something that can be taken care of before retirement 15 years from now,” said Gina Thursby, Little Rock Air Force Base Education and Training chief and retired USAF Chief Master Sergeant. “We need to change that mentality.  Getting an education at an early stage prepares them for larger things down the road.”

However, education is not only an investment for life after the Air Force.

“An education helps the Airmen learn how to study especially when it comes to the Weighted Airman Promotion System testing,” Thursby said. “It helps junior Airmen compete for Senior Airman Below the Zone or even awards, it separates them from their peers.”

Achieving a bachelor’s or master’s degree is not the only form of education Airmen can receive.

“Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (AFCOOL) programs offer certifications for your Air Force Specialty Code with a $4,500 lifetime cap, you can get as many certs as you want up to the cap,” she said. “We recently got this program back and even senior NCO’s and officers can obtain professional manager certifications.”

It starts with having a plan and sticking to it, whether a member serves for four or 20 years.

“It should start with attaining your Community College of the Air Force degree, which is a regionally accredited degree,” said Thursby. “Once they get their CCAF, it opens up countless possibilities for their future goals.”

A lot of people put off education saying they don’t have the time. Thursby explained, you’re not going to get less busy as you progress in rank, in fact it’s just the opposite.

“To put it off over and over again, there’s never going to be the right time to go to school,” she said. “There’s never a good time to start, you just need to do it. Take advantage of this benefit before it’s gone.”

For more information about furthering your education, call the Education Office at (501) 987-3417.