VFW Magazine — June/July 2017
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ISSUES UP FRONT
TIM DYHOUSE

Student Vets are Chasing High-Paying Careers

An in-depth study of how veterans use the Post-9/11 GI Bill shows they’re tackling challenging majors in exchange for lucrative jobs in stable career fields.

After more than six years of existence, that veteran the Post-9/11GI that veterans are serious about their schooling. The first of three reports by the StudentVeterans of America (SVA) to gauge the academic success of vets using the education benefit was released earlier this year. So far, it appears these scholars are attacking their lessons like a military objective.

“Based on the initial results, today’s student veterans represent the best source of potential and cur-rent achievers in higher education,” according to the National Veteran Education Success Tracker (NVEST) report.

One section of the report studied the types of degrees that Post-9/11 GI Bill users are pursuing. It noted that these student-vets are using their education benefits “to position themselves for the civilian workforce by earning degrees in marketable and high-demand majors.”

BUSINESS DEGREES LEAD THE WAY

The most popular degrees — by a wide margin — were those in business management, marketing, and related support services fields. The NVEST report found that some 27 percent of vets earned a degree in these disciplines.

That was the case for Kara Moore, who graduated in 2014 from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, with a business degree. Moore, who served in the Navy from 2003-2012, including a deployment to the Middle East region aboard the USS Tarawa in 2007-08, said her degree is invaluable.

“My first job as a buyer was dumb luck, and a vice president was willing to take a risk on me,” Moore said. “I quickly fell in love with the job, and my vice president told me about six months later that I was the best buyer he’d ever hired. I decided on a business degree to help me move up in my newfound field.”

Moore, a former petty officer 2nd class who served as a mass communications specialist, is currently a buyer for U-Haul in Tempe, Ariz. Her job entails finding new vendors, negotiating costs, managing inventory and purchasing repair parts for rental trucks.

“It keeps me busy and on my toes,” she said.

Moore added that she plans to pursue a master’s degree and hopes to move into a project management position.

“I love buying, but project management will allow me to expand on what I’m already doing and learn some new things,” she said.

100,000 DEGREES ANNUALLY

After business degrees, the NVEST report found that the next most popular disciplines were those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. When grouped together, the NVEST study found that 14.4 percent of student vets had either earned or were pursuing STEM degrees.

Coming in as the third-most-sought degrees were health-related. More than one in 10 (10.4 percent) student vets claimed these majors.

Overall, SVA — which has been an official partner of VFW since 2013 — found that nearly 350,000 vets have obtained degrees since the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s inception in August 2009. It predicted that “if the trend remains accurate,” the program will allow some 100,000 vets annually to earn degrees.

One question the initial study did not answer is why student vets were so successful in college. Statistics did show that vets using the Post-9/11 GI Bill were slightly older than their classmates. But that might only be part of it. Moore supplied what could be the real reason.

“My military experience was invaluable to earning my degree,” she said.
“The work ethic instilled in me in the Navy helped me be successful. In the Navy, I learned the importance of dead-lines and putting my responsibilities ahead of everything else.”

To access the full report, visit nvest.studentveterans.org.

EMAIL tdyhouse@vfw.org
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