Life on a Navy ship convinced Carey Martell, a licensed practical nurse in the Navy Reserve, that technical education and promotions are interconnected.
Sailors train as firefighters, plumbers and medics because, once at sea, they can’t call professionals to come aboard.
“Trades are the jobs we really need,” said Martell, a petty officer first class in Orlando.
Moreover, education in trade or technical fields increase their chances of promotion as sailors or civilians, according to Martell.
Jeff Walker, an assistant professor in nursing at Herzing University agreed. He was in the Marine Corps Reserve for a year, then served four years on active duty with the Navy. He learned to rewire an entire Navy vessel, including generators and turbines.
Nevertheless, none of his hard-earned Navy training counted as academic credit after he left the service. Now, he encourages students to combine military experience and education whenever possible.
“It makes you more valuable if you’ve got certification plus experience,” he said. “You have proof that you can show to an employer that you know what you’re doing.”
Daenel Vaughn-Tucker was an ammunition specialist in the Army when she separated in 1996.
“There aren’t many calls for an ammunition specialist when you get out in the civilian world,” she said.
So she earned an associate in education from a community college followed by two more degrees. She now works as the director of library services and social media coordinator at Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC).
“The military encourages you to better yourself,” she said. “When you’re in the military, you’re trained. That’s what they do. But if you don’t have those credentials behind your name, there’s always that fear” of life after military service, she explained.
CLTCC’s Lamar Salter campus has a close relationship with JRTC and Fort Polk in Leesville, Louisiana, so soldiers can expand their skills and become more eligible for promotions. For example, Lt. Col. John-Paul E. Depreo, the 46th Engineer Battalion Commander, approved his welders for a semester of welding classes, according to CLTCC Campus Dean Geralyn A. Janice.
“The battalion commander wanted them to increase their proficiency, which also contributes to the services they provide the Army,” she said.
RELATED: National Guard expands ‘generous’ state education benefits
Martell plans to add academic credentials to her Navy experience by completing a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Herzing University.
“Immediate skills definitely help the Navy because a person is more experienced and educated in the skill set,” she said. “Getting trades and education [and] community service helps you rank better against your peers when we do our evaluations every year.”
Further, she said the additional education will increase her chances at promotion in the Navy – or later when she hopes to work for the Veterans Administration.
Herzing counted her know-how as a Navy LPN toward her bachelor’s degree. That accelerates her path toward graduation and the promotions possible through her achievements, said Jarvis Racine, Herzing’s vice president of strategic partnerships, workforce development and government affairs.
“The military provides a lot of opportunity for learning so we really want to make sure we’re maximizing that,” Racine said. “What we’ve done is create a pathway for them to validate their skills and begin working at a higher level.”
Likewise, Vaughn-Tucker believes a technical education is especially useful for reservists and guardsmen who enjoy their M.O.S. or aren’t academically inclined.
“Being able to get certification in that job helps them out because when they get ready to separate from the military, they have that credential,” she said. “It gives them a skill set where they can provide a living for themselves and their family. You still have a life ahead of you.”Read comments