When I was in high school, I had a GPA of 1.6 and barely graduated. Nonetheless, my mother always believed that I would be the first person in our family to receive my college degree. In 2010, she passed away in a head-on collision car accident, and I became a ward of the state at the age of 16. I was out of options and resources, but knowing that I was going to make my mother’s dream a reality. In 2012, I looked to the United States Army and the GI Bill.
Every service member shares two experiences over the course of their military career: the transition from civilian life into the military and the transition from the military back to civilian life. Running off the bus to the yellow footprints and picking up discharge papers are both ingrained in memories; yet the transition out of service remains overlooked. To the detriment of service members, the military has under delivered with its transition programs. I recognized this issue during the transition course I attended in 2012 as a Marine at Camp Pendleton — the same year that the Pentagon’s unemployment insurance expenses nearly reached $2 billion.