Educating Airmen, families on investing in their future

by Airman 1st Class Michael Stuart
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

When someone decides they want to start or continue their education but are unsure of what classes to take or what degree program to enroll in, the education office is the right place for them to find answers.

The 86th Force Support Squadron Education Office ensures Airmen and families know the correct steps to take on their educational journey.

“We’re helping people learn the right road to take to be successful in life,” said Michael Jones, 86th Force Support Squadron education services specialist. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Jones said everyone, regardless of service or status, who needs educational counseling, should visit the office.

“We’re not limited to counseling only active-duty Airmen,” said Annette Henderson, 86th Force Support Squadron education services specialist. “Our doors are open to everyone, regardless of the color of their uniform or whether they’re a spouse, dependent, reservist or retiree.”

Six percent of enlisted Airmen between the ages of 24 and 52 have a bachelor’s degree. This means 94 percent of enlisted Airmen aren’t taking advantage of the free educational benefits the Air Force offers.

In today’s competitive workforce, it isn’t ideal to compete for a job with fewer credentials than your peers, Henderson said.
The education office guides individuals through the variety of decisions involved in choosing a degree completion program, college institution and various funding resources available to them.

In an average month, the office advises about 1,000 walk-ins, along with appointments throughout the day. Ramstein averages 4,000 students, 9,000 enrollments and $7.5 million in approved tuition assistance each year.

One of the most frequently asked questions the education office answers is, “Where do I go to find what I need to complete my (Community College of the Air Force) degree?”

To check the status of a CCAF, visit the Air Force Virtual Education Center online to get an understanding of what’s required. Then, visit the education office for further guidance and get any questions answered. To get to AFVEC, go to the Education/Training/Force Development section of the Air Force portal.

Learning what steps to take, during or after service, is important to prepare Airmen for the future, Jones said. Discussing educational routes is an additional part of the Transition Assistance Program offered to service members before they leave the service.

“We’re here to help you transition,” Jones said. “It’s easier for someone (who has) only been in for two to three years to transition than someone (who has) been accustomed to the military lifestyle for a longer amount of time.”

When an Airman graduates technical training, they receive a certain amount of credits based on their Air Force specialty that go toward their CCAF.

The Air Force Virtual Education Center shows Airmen how far along they are in their CCAF progression and what they need to take to finish it.

“We don’t look at Airmen any differently than we look at general officers or spouses any differently than we do dependents,” Henderson said. “Our doors are always open for any type of educational counseling that any individual might need.”

For the last two years the office was presented the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Nathan Altschuler Outstanding Education and Training Program-Team Program Award.

There’s an Ed Markey quote that resonates with the staff: “Education is not only a ladder of opportunity, but it is also an investment in our future.”