The Importance of Pursuing Education Published Feb. 9, 2012 By Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Collins 36 Munitions Squadron Superintendent ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE -- Why is education so important? The bottom-line is your nation needs you to have an education; the Air Force needs you to have an education, you need "you" to have an education. Education is the cornerstone of our nation, our society, and strengthens our military and our Air Force. It trains our minds to think and make right decisions. The world has changed; we are no longer the leaders when it comes to producing college graduates. One alarming statistic states in the U.S. only 57 percent who enroll in a bachelor's degree program actually graduate. In China, the college graduation rate is 97 percent. Other nations, friendly or unfriendly, are becoming more educated. They are challenging our preeminence in commerce, industry, science and technological innovation. For our nation to continue to be a world leader, we have to educate ourselves, making our nation more competitive. We must commit ourselves to life-long of learning, strengthening our nation, our Air Force and denying our enemies the possibility of gaining any advantage. Education makes us professionals. We cannot go blindly into the dark to face a foe and expect to come out victorious. Education opens our eyes to the world around us, it gives us insight, it allows us the ability to take knowledge and apply it appropriately. As Airmen it is our constitutional duty to ensure our nation's survival. As our country's warriors we must continue our professional development. The Air Force spends millions of dollars annually on professional development. It is your obligation as Airmen and warriors to participate and take advantage of this development. For the enlisted, the components are job knowledge gained through career developments courses, job proficiency-hands on training, and job experience which builds confidence and competence. Through actively completing these components you become more aware and your eyes are opened. You will start to have more pride in yourself, and confidence will rise because you know your job. You make the Air Force that much stronger when you develop yourself as an Airman. Off duty education is another great way to develop as an Airman. There are numerous programs at your disposal to complete your educational goals. For our enlisted, the Community College or the Air Force was developed to award Associate in Applied Science degrees to active Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members. The college combines Air Force technical training with general education course work to help Airmen achieve their degrees. The CCAF additionally offers nationally recognized credentialing programs that help personnel to broaden the professional development. The Air Force is committed to developing Airmen by providing Military Tuition Assistance to help Airmen further their education. Currently, TA will pay for tuition and some fees at accredited institutions up $250 per semester hour, with an annual cap of $4,500. Additionally, TA money is tax free. The Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9-11 GI Bill are other programs offered to you to defray educational costs. You should contact the Education Office to learn about more about other programs offered. Also, the Air Force Virtual Education Center is a web site good for providing information about your education benefits. The site's purpose is to provide students one-stop shopping for all your higher education needs. Why is education important to you? Besides making our nation more competitive and strengthening our Air Force, education becomes equally as important to you in life after the military. The skills, experience and education you gain while serving in the Air Force puts you in high demand in civilian sector. According to the U.S department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, the median annual earning for a person with a Bachelors degree earned $18,000 more than a person with just a high school diploma or equivalent. The knowledge you gain through education will enlighten you. It will make you more competitive; help you make informed judgments, secure gainful employment and progress society. Education is important. Through educating ourselves we make our nation competitive in the global economy, we ensure its survival and we make it a better place to live. By educating ourselves and developing professionally and we strengthen our Air Force. We know our jobs, we're confident and we can make educated decisions while keeping our adversaries at bay. We make our own lives richer and fulfilling. We make ourselves competitive, securing employment while earning a higher wage. Our nation is safe in the hands of educated individuals.