Women's History Month highlights education

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Farah Martinez
  • 340th Fighter Training Group/Financial Management
From the very beginning of your enlisted military career, you are bombarded with training. First there is basic military training, then technical training, followed by career development courses and on-the-job training. Additionally, as soon as you complete your CDCs, there is a strong push to complete a Community College of the Air Force degree.

There have always been earmarks and goals set for education and training in order to achieve career progression, but why? Is it just to create another box that needs to be filled?

The answer is no. It is to create members who are experts in not only their jobs, but who can become an educated group of citizens. The more knowledge we have, the greater the effect will be on performing and accomplishing our mission.

March commemorates Women's History Month, and this year the theme is "Women's Education - Women's Empowerment." Education is one of the best means to help you stand out from the crowd and set you up for success so that the leaders around you will feel confident in empowering you. The pursuit of education shows a willingness and propensity for learning and bettering oneself.

In my unit alone, the women around me hold CCAF degrees, bachelor of science degrees in mathematics and MBAs, and others are pursuing degrees in business administration, human resources, information technology and aeronautical science, to name a few. It was really inspiring when I started finding out what everyone's educational goals were.

A good education is essential for your career both in and out of uniform, so take advantage of the education benefits you've earned. While serving, members can take advantage of $4,500 a year in tuition assistance.

There is also the GI Bill, which is a big part of our education benefits. The GI Bill includes the Post-9/11 GI Bill, The Montgomery GI Bill for Active Duty and Veterans and Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserves. There are also many other programs such as the Reserve Education Assistance Program and Spouse and Dependents Education Assistance. More and more schools are also taking advantage of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

There are also state programs depending on which state you claim as your place of legal residency such as The Hazelwood Act here in Texas. There are no limits to what women can accomplish in the military. The percentage of women in the U.S. military has gone from 1.6 percent in 1973 to 14.6 percent as of September 2011. 1990 marked the 10th year women have graduated from the military academies of the Army, Navy and Air Force. A woman even graduated at the top of her class in the Air Force Academy in 1986. In 2008, the armed forces promoted its first female four-star general, Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody. In 2011, Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward was the first female commander to lead a U.S. military campaign in Libya.

I will conclude this commentary with a quote by Marian Wright Edelman, an American children's rights activist, "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it."