By Sgt. Travis Zielinski, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsAugust 20, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Many things are less accessible to Soldiers deployed in Iraq, but getting a better education is not one of them.
At least that is the goal of the leadership of Company D, 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division Baghdad.
They had an opportunity to provide computer access for college and correspondence courses for their Soldiers on the hanger floor and took it.
Before the 1st Air Cav. Bde. deployed, the pieces were already coming into place to provide the tools for a better education.
"We came up with the idea back at Fort Hood, we got some new computers in which gave us some excess computers," said 1st Sgt. Lloyd Ankurm, from Salmon, Idaho, Co. D, 4-227th, 1 ACB. "Having the excess computers allowed us to set this whole project up."
"The switches for internet access that we were given had extra lines available, so two lines were ran into each shop - armament, maintenance and the airframe shop," said Ankrum.
Everything is working out well for the education-at-work idea according to Sgt. Bismark Miolin, from Edison, N.J., an armament specialist on AH-64D Apache attack helicopters, in Co. D.
"It is pretty cool that the chain of command is helping us like this," said Miolin. "I can prepare for my future outside of the military while I am in Iraq doing my job as a Soldier."
"Even before we left Kuwait the commander wanted the Soldiers to start enrolling in college, he signed off on anyone that wanted to take part of it," said Miolin.
Deployed Soldiers have a variety of places they can go to further their education, but most of these facilities are away from their primary place of duty. With a mission-first mindset, having access to computers at the airfield gives Soldiers a greater opportunity to get school work done without trailing far from where the mission is.
"Having the computers down at the area where we work makes it really convenient, when we have down time between tasks I am able to go to the computers and work on my schooling," said Miolin. "I don't have to make arrangements with my supervisor to leave and go do a college class, having that accessibility makes it easy for all of us."
The chain of command is not forcing Soldiers to participate, but it strongly encourages that they do not waste a good opportunity.
"The response from the Soldiers is awesome, there are 15 Soldiers actively in college and four or five others working on correspondence courses for military education," said Ankrum.
"One of my things was, I wanted all of our junior Soldiers to knock out as much of their military education as they could for promotions," said Ankrum.
The program is not only helping those Soldiers who choose to take advantage of it, but also those who put it all together.
"It is good to have the ability to provide for the Soldiers, it is a good feeling knowing that we can do this," said Ankrum.