Being a solidier has never been easy. The prospect of war or other conflicts can weigh heavy on the mind of soldiers during their day. With today’s stress over COVID-19 and the real possibility of being furloughed or laid off, the Wyoming Army National Guard would like to remind its members and potential recruits that when it comes to a soldier’s educational needs, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Whether it is a new job, further certifications to help with a current job, or going back to school to get more education, Supervisory Education Services Specialist Rachel Gauthier and GI Bill Manager Staff Sgt. Larry Wagner are ready to assist with whatever education needs soldiers of Wyoming might have.
Soldiers who might have been laid off, or want to try a new career and maybe are not sure about going back to college, can look to the Army Credentialing Assistance Program.
This program started at the beginning of 2020 and allows soldiers to receive new job training or certifications in more than 1,500 fields ranging from information technology to personal trainer at no cost to the member.
“This program opens up a whole new world for soldiers who might think college is not for them,” says Gauthier. This program also gives the soldier flexibility in their choices for their education as it can be used in conjunction with state and federal tuition assistance programs. Soldiers that take advantage of this program have a total of $4,000 to spend on new training.
For soldiers who would like to go back to school, they have the option of utilizing a number of benefits to assist in paying for it. Two such benefits include Federal Tuition Assistance and the Montgomery GI Bill and Kicker.
Opened up to National Guard Soldiers in 2012, Federal Tuition Assistance can be utilized at any Wyoming community college, University of Wyoming or any online school a service member chooses. There are no additional service obligations for enlisted soldiers. This benefit provides soldiers with up to $250 per semester hour and can be used towards degree programs ranging from an associate degree to a master’s degree.
Most soldiers can also utilize either the Montgomery GI Bill and Kicker or the Post 9/11 GI Bill to both pay for school and get paid to go to school. The Montgomery GI bill and Kicker will pay out directly to the soldier up to $742 for them to attend any accredited school or trade school they wish. This benefit is written into the majority of soldiers’ contracts so there is no need to apply for it.
Soldiers who have deployed and need additional help paying for school can utilize the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
“This is a tiered benefit based on eligible service on active duty,” explained Wagner. “It is a really excellent benefit especially the housing stipend.” This benefit will assist soldiers in paying for a portion of their tuition, a housing stipend, and a book allowance all based on how much time a soldier has served on active duty. The Post 9/11 GI Bill can be used at any accredited school or trade school a soldier might want to attend.
Other benefits offered by the state education office include educational counseling, registered apprenticeship assistance, testing help for college or military scores, assistance submitting paperwork for school, help submitting the Joint Services Transcript, and being a resource if a soldier has any questions.
“We want soldiers calling us,” says Wagner. “A soldier can call us at any time with questions.”
If anyone has any questions, or would like to learn more about these and other available resources, please contact Rachel Gauthier at 307-772-5082 or 785-477-0868. Staff Sgt. Larry Wagner can be reached at 307-772-5361.