FORT BENNING, Ga. – Fort Benning Education Center leaders hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony March 7 to officially announce the re-opening of the facility located in the Soldier for Life Center on post.
The event reinforced the partnership the installation maintains with five schools to provide active-duty Soldiers access to on-site and virtual educational opportunities. The center had operated in a reduced capacity for over a year before the ceremony.
“(During) COVID, everyone went virtual,” said Fort Benning Education Services Officer James Craig. “Then, we had a construction project with this building and completely shut it down, (schools) had to move off post and were virtual for 13 months.”
Craig added that the event served as a “welcome home” to the schools and Soldiers returning. Though the construction presented obstacles to in-person coursework, the center maintained operations virtually.
While Army Continuing Education System counselors remained available to see customers, Craig said that Soldiers had to meet with partner college representatives virtually or at their respective campuses during construction.
Col. Colin Mahle, Fort Benning garrison commander, was grateful for the opportunity to formally welcome back on-site education. “We do a lot of great things on Fort Benning, and these things can’t be done without our project partners,” said Mahle. He continued by thanking Soldiers and their families for their confidence in the capabilities of the education center.
Army Continuing Education System counselors and site directors from partner schools at the center help active-duty Soldiers through the processes of applying to schools and securing tuition assistance.
Craig stated “the site directors are for access and convenience, so (Soldiers) can walk down, enroll, (get) advising with the school, and come back and do the tuition assistance side of the house with the Army.”
Staff Sgt. Richard Mills, currently working toward his master’s degree in strategic communication acknowledged the challenges of pursuing higher education. “Balancing my time as an active-duty Soldier with home life and also work life, it requires some sacrifice,” Mills said. “But I fully believe that this degree will give me a competitive edge when my time comes to return to civilian life.”
The Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning prioritizes people. During fiscal year 2022, the education center had 873 enrollments, across 30 programs offered by partner schools, totaling over $6 million in tuition assistance used at Fort Benning.
For more information regarding programs offered by the Fort Benning Education center, visit https://www.education.army.mil/hubs/contact.aspx?hub_id=5