Commentary by Capt. Omar Villarreal
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
8/15/2011 – KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — With the current military tempo, it would seem safe to say that by joining the military, new Airmen will be able to see the world. I have known many people who have joined to get away, to see new places, to expand their understandings and to gain independence.
I decided to join the Air Force because I wanted to follow the footsteps of a proud Airman who served more than 24 years for his country. That proud Airman was my father, who along with my mother stressed the importance of education.
I never was the studying type. I guess I figured there were so many other things I would rather be doing, but because of my parents I knew education could help me grow as a person.
“Education can take you places,” my parents would say. “Go to school, stay on top of your studies, work hard, believe in yourself and the rest will be history.”
I was commissioned nearly eight years ago, after four extremely fun years at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I am sure there were those who doubted I would be able to finish because I had a full plate. I worked full-time, I ran cross country, I was in ROTC and I was in a fraternity.
“Most people can only work and go to school, or have a social life and go to school,” a school administrator said during an orientation a week before my first semester. “We advise you choose what you want to do and stay away from the other.”
I am here to tell you that no matter how much you have on your plate, no matter how long it has been since you have taken your last class and no matter how hard you think it will be, there is always a little room for higher education. Putting forth just a little amount of effort is all that is required to succeed.
As servicemembers, we have tools at our disposal to help us get an education. We have an education center. We have tuition assistance. We have leaders who understand the value of a higher education; and if we are away from our families, we have the opportunity to get one or finish one we have already started.
The education center is there to help servicemembers reach their educational goals. The education center is there to help with what probably is the hardest part about getting a higher education, registering for that first class. Once you register, you are well on your way to achieving the degree you seek.
So, with the tools available to each of us, there should be no reason for not pursuing a higher education, right? Well, that is up to us to apply the values instilled in each of us: Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do.
I think we owe it to ourselves to improve who we are. I can honestly say that I believe most service members strive to be model citizens. We want a higher rank, we want more responsibility and we want to live the best life possible.
I am not going to convince you to go register for a class, buy a textbook or take the first step and visit your base’s education center to by writing this commentary. Getting an education is something you have to want to do for yourself.
All I am asking is that you take a second to think about the opportunities you have. As servicemembers, we have opportunities that most only dream of. Want better for yourself? Get a higher education and go further than you ever thought possible.
For information on how you can take that first step, visit your education center or log on the Air Force Portal and visit the Air Force Virtual Education Center.