Servicemembers give up a lot when they deploy. They lose the ability to see their families each day and the right to many luxuries left back home in the states. But one thing troops should always have the right to is professional development.
As Soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen climb the ranks in their respective services, they must also climb the ladder of knowledge and constantly challenge their critical thinking.
The educational services currently offered in country just aren't enough for military members to fully test their mental capabilities. By August 2008 it will be quite another story as four full-service education centers will be stood up across Iraq.
Camp Victory, Camp Stryker, Combat Operations Base Anaconda, COB Speicher and COB Mosul have been visited as proposed site locations for the education centers. The locations are being chosen based on troop strength in that area and the ability to facilitate such a center, said Sgt. Maj. Marlon D. Richardson, personnel management supervisor, C-1, Multi-National Corps-Iraq.
The new formal education centers will offer many more education advisement benefits for troops, such as career counseling, interest inventories, federal grants and loans, multi-use computer labs, Army Personnel Testing, loan repayment and college courses taught on location, said Brenda Taylor-Brooks, community recreation officer, C-1, MNC-I.
"Soldiers can sign up for correspondence courses for promotion points with counselors to help them pick ones based on their military occupations," Taylor-Brooks said.
Through a tri-services contract that will allow civilians from the University of Maryland, Central Texas College and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to teach in Iraq, troops will have the ability to take courses with actual professors present, Taylor-Brooks said.
The contract will go into effect in August and will give servicemembers the kind of one-on-one learning experience that, until now, was only offered in the states.
"Servicemembers are sacrificing a lot to come here," Taylor-Brooks said. "They have earned the right to professionally develop themselves."
Military members put their lives on the line on a daily basis in Iraq. The military is now giving back to these troops who give their all for their country.
"These centers will give them an opportunity to continue their education, rather than putting it at a standstill," Richardson said. "It's important to have these centers so servicemembers can stay competitive when they get to the senior ranks."
"This is a key component or retention," Taylor-Brooks said. "The education centers are long overdue here, and they will go a long way when it comes to improving the morale of our troops."

Page last updated Sat May 17th, 2008 at 09:13