Tips for Military Veterans Going Back to School

servicemember holding school books

With one semester ending and another school year approaching, many active and former military personnel might be considering how to best use their education benefits.

No matter what area of study you decide to pursue, going back to school can be difficult to manage, even if the benefits are extraordinary.
Here are the best tips on how to successfully transition from military life to college life:

  • Have a Plan and a Back-Up Plan
    1. Most college campuses have an abundance of majors and areas of study, but which one is going to work best for you, your interests, and your schedule? Before you step foot on campus, contact an academic advisor to find out more about the programs you’re interested in. What have past students in your field done after graduation? Is this the best place to receive my degree in this field? How do the professors teach and what are the time slots for these classes? You want to make sure you are able to pursue your degree that will best suit your needs in a way that is as stress free as possible. Creating a back-up plan is also helpful in the event that you decide to switch majors, or the program isn’t as incredible as it was made out to be.
  • Develop a Good Study Schedule
    1. In the military, you are taught to learn quickly and on a schedule. If this is the method you have become accustomed to, then it can be an easy transfer to study skills. Scheduling how long you study, break times, and how much material you are going to recover are all great ways to get the most out of your study time. However, remember that not all people study the same. How were you best able to learn and succeed while in the military, and how can this be transferred to your classes?
  • Stay Organized
    1. This may seem self-explanatory, but the way that you kept your space tidy and clean in the military is the same way you should keep your workspace clean. Keeping a clean workspace not only allows for students to easily locate all of their study materials, but it also limits messy distractions and increases concentration.
  • Use Your Resources
    1. One of the most amazing things about universities is the abundance of resources you have. Tutors, libraries and career counselors can help you in your study habits, but schools also provide medical facilities, access to therapy, gyms, and veteran-specific support groups that can all aide in personal endeavors and mental health.
  • Communicate
    1. In the end, you and your classmates have quite a bit in common—you both want to graduate. Working on a team to study, much like how military personnel work on teams to accomplish tasks, can be highly effective in schoolwork as well as utilizing office hours, academic counseling, and even school clubs. Getting involved with your new college community will provide new opportunities to learn, study, make friends, release stress and enjoy socialization, all of which help your academic and personal lives.

Warrior-Scholar Project Partners with Yale University to Host One-Week Winter STEM Program for Veterans

Yale University

While most college first-year students are recent high school graduates, for some, higher education is made possible by military benefits — leading many veterans to struggle with adjusting to the college experience after serving.

In an effort to help student veterans acclimate to civilian life and successfully complete undergraduate programs, national nonprofit Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) has partnered with Yale University to host a virtual Winter STEM Academic Boot Camp from Dec. 13-18. The intensive physics-based curriculum, offered at no cost to enlisted service members, is designed to help veterans prepare for an academic environment while learning strategies to become better students.

The WSP-Yale Winter STEM Academic Boot Camp is open to veterans who have transitioned out of the military or active duty service members who are within two years of separation and haven’t already participated in a WSP STEM boot camp. Veterans looking to jumpstart their education can learn more about the program and apply here.

Though the program is being held completely online in response to the pandemic, students will have the opportunity to learn from Yale faculty, including the esteemed Marla Geha, professor in the Astronomy and Physics departments, and Jack Harris, professor of Physics and Applied Physics. Additionally, students will receive mentoring from fellow veterans and begin to adjust to a formal learning environment — all key components of the in-person program that were adapted for a virtual setting.

“The STEM program [at Yale] was informative, and I had a lot of fun! I feel more comfortable going into an introductory physics class,” said Ciara Slusarz, a U.S. Navy veteran who participated in the WSP-Yale 2020 summer boot camp. “Having a class with very passionate instructors and students definitely helped me understand and appreciate the material and made me feel like I would be able to do well in this sort of college class.”

The first-ever WSP program was piloted at Yale in 2012, making this the ninth year that the university has partnered with the national nonprofit — bolstering the school’s reach to local veterans. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, over 184,000 veterans reside in Connecticut. Often, service members face extraordinary challenges acclimating to civilian life and Warrior-Scholar Project helps them find camaraderie and guidance during a challenging time in their lives. Support from Yale University and investments made by foundations, corporations, and private donors cover the entire cost of the program for participants. Since the program began, nearly 200 veterans have attended WSP at Yale University.
About Warrior-Scholar Project

Warrior-Scholar Project empowers enlisted veterans and service members to excel at four-year universities. Through intensive and immersive one- to two-week academic boot camps, participants gain skills required for success and support for the cultural shift from the military to higher education at top-tier schools. Throughout WSP’s free resident education programs, students are traditionally housed on campus, and engage in challenging discussions with accomplished professors, receiving tailored instruction on key skills like analytical reading and college-level writing. 2020 academic boot camps follow a virtual version of this program due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Warrior-Scholar Project is a national nonprofit with programs at public and private colleges and universities across the country. For more information, visit

About Yale University
Since its founding in 1701, Yale has been dedicated to expanding and sharing knowledge, inspiring innovation, and preserving cultural and scientific information for future generations. Yale’s reach is both local and international. It partners with its hometown of New Haven, Connecticut to strengthen the city’s community and economy. And it engages with people and institutions across the globe in the quest to promote cultural understanding, improve the human condition, delve more deeply into the secrets of the universe, and train the next generation of world leaders.

3 Ways VA Helps Military Spouses Continue Their Education

Cheerful multiethnic woman walking to class smilin

Military spouses can take advantage of programs that help continue their education and develop fulfilling careers working with our nation’s veterans.

Those interested in continuing their education to advance a career need look no further than VA.

More than 500,000 military spouses in the U.S. are underemployed or unemployed. We’re committed to helping them enjoy meaningful careers by partnering with the DoD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) program.

“By taking this pledge, we demonstrated our commitment to working with DoD and military installations across the country to engage military spouses in conversation about career opportunities across the country,” said Tracey Therit, chief human capital officer at VA.

As a VA employee, you could enjoy access to a robust range of programs to support your ongoing education. Here are three ways we offer education support to our employees:

  1. Scholarships. The Department of Defense grants military spouses up to $4,000 in tuition help to pursue licenses, certifications or associate degrees in targeted fields through the My Career Advancement Account scholarship. We also offer several scholarship opportunities to our VA employees. If you’re a nurse, you can receive nearly $40,000 to continue your nursing studies and earn a baccalaureate or advanced nursing degree. Get a tax-free scholarship of up to $40,117 to pursue a health care degree through the Employee Incentive Scholarship Program or the same generous scholarship plus salary replacement through the VA National Education for Employees Program.


  1. Loan repayment and reimbursement. Your federal student loans are often eligible for forgiveness as a federal employee at VA. On top of that, we also offer up to $10,000 per year for six years in loan repayment help for employees in certain occupations.
  1. Internal training and education. Keep your education going while on the job. Our Employee Education System offers education and training, including accredited courses and programs, to improve outcomes, operations and administration. Take advantage of our leadership training program, state-of-the-art satellite system that delivers digital educational programming 24/7, a web-based training portal, and agreements with colleges and universities close to many VA facilities.

With this support, you can continue your education and grow into the rewarding career you’ve been looking for, all while serving veterans at VA facilities across the nation.


How to Prepare for Higher Education

Notebook, diploma and pencils on white table image for military education

Perhaps you’ve decided to pick up some valuable knowledge. Maybe you’re leaving the service and need to re-create yourself. No matter why you’re pursuing higher education, you need a game plan—a course of action to get you from today to that moment you walk across the stage, holding your diploma in hand. Here are some practical steps to take.

Step one: Contact the Voluntary Education Program

Before you get buried in college brochures, speak with an education professional through the Voluntary Education Program. An education professional can help guide you through the planning and paying for your education, as well as eligibility requirements. Find the right contact information below depending on your service:

Step two: Choose a college

Deciding which college to attend is much easier when you have the right information. As a service member, you have access to useful resources such as the College Navigator, a free online tool from the National Center for Education Statistics. The College Navigator provides information on more than 7,000 postsecondary education institutions, so you can compare schools’ tuition, financial aid, accreditation information, graduation and retention rates and more.

TA DECIDE is another helpful tool for comparing schools and programs. Designed for participants of the Department of Defense Military Tuition Assistance Program, it provides education costs and outcomes, as well as information about other military students who are participating in the tuition assistance program.
Step three: Take your college admission exams

Get ready for some studying even before college begins. Most colleges and universities require admission exams with your application, such as the SAT Reasoning Test, the SAT Subject Tests, the American College Testing (ACT) Readiness Assessment, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the General Education Development Test.
The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, or DANTES, can help you prepare for enrollment and cover the cost of some academic tests. DANTES also offers college prep resources that can help you prepare for these admission exams, sharpen study skills, and identify your interests and aptitudes in choosing an area of study or career path. Visit DANTES to learn more or to contact a counselor.

Step four: Convert your military experience to college credit

The tests you endured in combat can count just as much as quizzes in a classroom. The Joint Services Transcript converts your military experience into civilian college credit, providing documented evidence to colleges and universities of professional military education, training and occupation experiences. The Joint Services Transcript is a collaborative transcript program that replaces previous transcript programs, making it easier for colleges to read and recommend credits.
Step five: Understand your financing options

As a service member, you have several options that can help fund your schooling—so that you can concentrate on studying, not paying the bills. The education consultants at Military OneSource can help you identify grants and other kinds of assistance for which you are eligible. Here is a sampling of programs and loans available:

  • Military tuition assistance—provided by each service branch, offering up to $4,500 of assistance per fiscal year
  • Montgomery GI Bill® and MGIB Tuition Top-Up Programs—funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Tax credits and deductions—such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit
  • Federal grants and loans—such as the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunities Grant.

You’re just a few steps away from achieving your education goals. Remember to reach out to your network of support, including Military OneSource education consultants. You may also want to contact an education professional through your service’s Voluntary Education Program.


5 Ways to Squeeze Every Dime Out of Your GI Bill Benefits

metal device squeezing a copper penny

By Ron Kness

Having 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits is an earned entitlement valued by veterans that many civilians would do anything to get their hands on. It is one reward we receive for the hardships endured while serving.

However, without careful and deliberate management, this benefit can end up wasted or not used to its full potential.

To assist you in the best use of your Post 9/11 GI Bill, consider the five ways mentioned below and apply the ones pertinent to you to get the most out of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits post-secondary education benefits.



Since 2009, more and more veterans have both of these GI Bills. And while it is easy to gravitate toward using the Post 9/11 GI Bill because in most cases it pays more, your education goal can be a factor that can determine which one you should use first. Under the current VA rules, veterans must give up their MGIB if using their Post 9/11, so they only get 36 months total in eligibility.

However, by using all 36 months of their MGIB first, they can get an additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. This can be useful if pursing an advanced degree, as it provides an additional year of entitlement that in most cases will pay for half of an advanced degree.

Recently, the courts ruled that the VA could not force veterans to give up their MGIB to use their Post 9/11. If the decision stands, veterans would be able to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits first and then use 12 months of their MGIB. The part that would remain unchanged though is that both GI Bills could not be used at the same time.


Online-only students using their Post 9/11 GI Bill receive half of the amount that students taking classes on campus receive in Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA). However, by taking just one class at a local campus, and the rest of your classes online, you can get the full housing allowance. The key of course to make this work is your resident class must credit toward your degree plan.


While the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays full tuition and fees for veterans at the 100 percent tier attending a public school, it only pays $25,162.14 per year, if going to a private school. With some schools charging over twice this amount, it can leave a considerable unpaid balance. This must be paid by the student using scholarships, grants, student loans, personal funds, or some combination thereof.

But if the school is part of the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program, the school can pay up to 50 percent of the unpaid amount with the VA paying an equal amount. Do the math, and it is easy to see that reduces the unpaid amount to zero. You can check here to see if your school is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program and the specifics of their program.


One of the changes brought about by the Forever GI Bill was to set up a scholarship for veteran students majoring in one of the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering or math. Typically, these degree fields require more than four years to complete, and in the past, most STEM student ran out of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits before finishing their degree. But with the shortage of STEM qualified people, this scholarship is an incentive for students to finish that last year of school without the worry of how they are going to pay for it. It is on a first-come, first-serve basis, but if selected, it pays for an additional year of school up to $30,000.


If an advanced degree is in your education plan, another way to maximize your GI Bill benefits is to take your first two years of post-secondary education at a junior or community college and pay for it out-of-pocket. Typically, these schools are less expensive than four-year universities or colleges.

Doing it this way leaves your 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement intact and can be used to pay for the last two years of your bachelor’s degree and two years to finish a master’s degree with little to no out-of-pocket costs.


There you have it—five ways to squeeze every dime out of your hard-earned GI Bill benefits. Use them wisely because once they are gone, they are gone forever. They are too valuable to waste!


How Does an MBA Benefit a Military Career?

Soldier and civilian shaking hands on blurred background

When most people think of the military, business school is the furthest thing from their minds. Granted, the entertainment industry commonly showcases career paths like military lawyers or special law enforcement agents, though we rarely get a glimpse of former or active military working in the business sector.

Business has always had a strong pull for service members, but this phenomenon tends to fly under the pop culture radar. For real people—not characters on a TV show—pursuing an advanced business degree in addition to serving their country is both financially and personally rewarding.

The Military Advantage

While the military does not provide much business training, it does instill qualities in its personnel that businesses seek. Due to the similar skill sets in both fields, an MBA for military personnel is a natural choice. Contrary to popular perception, strong leadership in the military does not rely on rigid orders. Ed Robinson, veteran special ops team leader, points to a different skill set: Discerning what motivates soldiers. For that reason, Robinson sees military leadership skills as not only comparable to business skills but perhaps even better. Speaking to The Economist, he says “The military is simply better than business at getting people to do what you want them to do.”

Kyle Bate, former U.S. Air Force Deputy Commander, agrees that an MBA for military personnel is a natural fit. Veterans or active military looking to pursue a career in business after their service have the right experience for the field. He points to leadership, problem-solving, communication, teamwork and critical thinking skills as “highly desirable in both an MBA program and also corporate America.”
The MBA Advantage

Even though it may be easier for veterans to find time to earn an MBA than it is for active-duty personnel, there are options to help those on active duty. Some soldiers have found that online MBA programs offer the best fit for their lifestyles while serving. Flexible class schedules and accelerated programs allow soldiers to manage their time more effectively and study when it is convenient.

Both veterans and active military can benefit from earning an MBA. Beyond the skill set they share with business professionals, military personnel also have a financial advantage: The GI Bill. The University of West Florida, for example, offers discounted tuition prices for active duty military, veterans, spouses and dependents of military personnel. Earning an advanced degree without accruing student debt motivates an increasing number of military personnel to enhance their career paths with an MBA.


COVID-19 Impacts to Transition Assistance Program and Yellow Ribbon Program Events

Female soldier with books on USA flag background

The Department of Defense Military-Civilian Transition Office is closely monitoring impacts to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) events as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 continues to spread and is an increasing Force Health Protection (FHP) threat in areas where DoD personnel live and work.

The Defense Department issued instructions to the armed services and department heads on how to respond to implications of COVID-19. The memo signed by the official performing the duties of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD P&R) outlines a wide range of options to commanders and directors for decision-making in light of this situation.

The Defense Department is a worldwide organization and the virus outbreak is in different stages in different parts of the globe.

“This outbreak is dynamic and manifests differently by location, setting, population and individual,” a memo on force health protection from personnel and readiness says. “As a result, responses to (coronavirus) will need to be flexible, tailored and incremental.”

While the DoD continues to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s lead, additional military specific measures are authorized by current policy when needed to mitigate risk to U.S. forces stationed around the world and to protect service members, DoD civilian employees and contractor personnel, and family members.

Impacts to the Transition Assistance Program:

The rescheduling of TAP events due to COVID-19 are service-specific, at the discretion and decision of commanders, and based off of framework guidance issued by OUSD P&R.

TAP is a service-executed program and final decisions on TAP events are up to commanders. However, MCTO recommends the following:

  • Reduce TAP class size and follow CDC guidance on large gatherings & social distancing.
  • Move TAP events to a virtual platform, such as the Defense Collaboration Service, hosted the Defense Information Systems Agency.

“We understand the impact COVID-19 has on the community as a whole and the unique challenges it presents in regard to TAP service delivery,” said Tamre Newton, director of MCTO. “The guidance issued by OUSD P&R gives commanders the flexibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of transitioning service members, their families, and caregivers while still ensuring they receive the resources and transition support they require for a successful transition to civilian life.”

Impacts to the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program:

In replacement of in-person events, YRRP is working to release an online event tool, available to the Reserve Component (RC) at The tool is designed to provide deployment-cycle support to National Guard and Reserve service members and their families in situations in which they are unable to attend in-person events.

“While this tool is not a replacement for in-person events, it is meant to be a fallback for situations when there is simply no other alternative,” said Peter Toelle, chief of YRRP.

Service members and their families, resource providers and community partners who are registered to attend upcoming in-person YRRP events will receive status updates through their RC representative. Registered attendees can also contact their event point of contact by accessing the confirmation link provided at the time of registration.

“YRRP’s mission doesn’t change if in-person events are temporarily restricted,” said Toelle. “National Guard and Reserve service members continue to mobilize, so we will continue to provide support throughout the deployment-cycle regardless of the format.”


Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Student Veterans of America announce 2020 Patriot Scholarship Recipients

two scholarship recipients side by side smiling

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, in partnership with Student Veterans of America (SVA), today awarded two $10,000 scholarships to student veterans honoring those who served in the U.S. Army.

The Raytheon Technologies Patriot Scholarship, named for the company’s Patriot Air and Missile Defense System, is designed to help returning soldiers achieve educational goals that lead to success in their civilian lives. The scholarships are awarded to Army student veterans pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited university and require applicants to demonstrate leadership and commitment to their communities.

The 2020 scholarship recipients are:

  • Arturo Garcia, a graduate student at California State University, Northridge pursuing a degree in Logistics & Supply Chain Management; and
  • Karisa Myers, a graduate student at The Ohio State University pursuing an MBA.

“We’re proud to continue our partnership with Raytheon Missiles & Defense, empowering student veterans to lead and live their best lives,” said Jared Lyon, national president and CEO of Student Veterans of America. “Arturo and Karisa have demonstrated academic perseverance as they pursue their graduate degrees and a commitment to their communities through their involvement with their SVA Chapters.”

“We want to help position Army student veterans for future success by providing accessible educational opportunities that lead to meaningful careers and lifelong learning,” said Tom Laliberty, vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense, a business area of Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

Raytheon Technologies and SVA joined forces in November 2012 to help provide military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to achieve their greatest potential in higher education. Such empowerment helps our nation’s veterans find success in their post-service lives and helps to develop a generation of professionals who already understand the importance of leadership, discipline, and perseverance.

About Student Veterans of America

With a mission focused on empowering student veterans, SVA is committed to providing an educational experience that goes beyond the classroom. Through a dedicated network of more than 1,500 on-campus chapters in all 50 states and three countries overseas representing more than 750,000 student veterans, SVA aims to inspire yesterday’s warriors by connecting student veterans and military-affiliated students with a community of like-minded chapter leaders. Every day these passionate leaders work to provide the necessary resources, network support, and advocacy to ensure student veterans can effectively connect, expand their skills, and ultimately achieve their greatest potential.

The Different Ways Military Service Can Pay for Your Education

graduation cap sitting a top a stack of money

The cost of higher education and the thought of taking on student debt can be overwhelming at times. Perhaps you don’t think college is right for you now and want to wait.

Whatever the case may be, the military has options to make college affordable—whenever you choose to attend. In addition to unique training and skills you gain as a service member, the military offers several ways to ease the cost of college with tuition assistance, ROTC, scholarships and other educational programs.

Committing to military service while in college

ROTC scholarships: The Reserve Officer Training Corps program is offered by each branch at various colleges and universities across the nation. While attending a school of your choice enrolled in an ROTC program, you will learn leadership, special skills and participate in the military and college experiences. The ROTC program has several options whether you’re straight out of high school, already attending college or prior enlisted. In exchange for a scholarship, there is a service commitment after graduation.

Military service academies: Each branch of the military has a four-year college that offers full scholarships to its students. While in a service academy, you will be held to high academic and physical fitness standards. The application process is extremely competitive and a lengthy process. Applicants must be between ages 17 and 22 and unmarried with no children. After graduation, cadets and midshipmen go on to serve as commissioned officers in the military.

Tuition assistance and other education options while serving

College Loan Repayment Program: There are various benefits available to those who join the military after graduating from college. Qualified candidates could fast track to officer training and apply for the College Loan Repayment Program and more. The military could pay off a portion or all your loans in exchange for a service commitment. This offer is not always available and is contingent on several factors like the type of job you take in the military and the amount of your loans. Keep in mind that not every branch offers this program. A local recruiter can provide specific details on how the program works.

Tuition assistance: As an active-duty service member, you may find time in your schedule to attend school part-time. Each branch offers tuition assistance to help pay for college classes that are $250 or less per semester hour. Tuition assistance can be used for undergraduate and graduate programs as well as several other programs. This program assists greatly in relieving the costs of college. While it may not be able to fully cover college costs, the Top-Up Program allows you to use funds from a GI Bill to cover the remaining costs.

GI Bills: The Department of Veterans Affairs offers several programs to assist both active duty and veterans with the cost of education. The GI Bills are two of the most well-known programs.

National Guard/reserves: Joining the National Guard or reserves allows you to serve in the military part-time and receive education benefits, such as tuition assistance in certain branches and the GI Bill.

Credential program: While serving in the military, you have the ability to receive credentials in a professional field to help you plan for civilian employment after separation or retirement. The Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program offers vouchers to help pay the exam fees of a credentialing organization.

Education options after military service

Post-9/11 GI Bill: When you serve at least 90 days of active-duty service after Sept. 10, 2001 and receive an honorable discharge, you can use the Post-9/11 GI Bill. With this benefit, you can receive up to 100 percent of tuition and fees covered, a yearly book stipend and a monthly housing allowance. As a bonus, if you’re a veteran at the 100 percent benefit level, you may also be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program, available at military friendly colleges, covers any tuition or fees that may not have been covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Montgomery GI Bill: This education benefit requires you to have served at least two years on active duty and have a high school diploma or GED. Unlike the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery only covers tuition and fees, and you have up to 10 years after discharge to use the benefit.


More Military and Families Turn to This University for Online Degrees

soldier in Army uniform with flag in background typing scrolling on iPad

Arizona State University has a long-standing commitment to the military community and its veterans, long after they have finished active duty, and once they are ready to pursue a degree and a new career path in civilian life.

Over the past decade, more military-affiliated families have taken advantage of ASU’s growing, reputable online courses, fulfilling degrees in engineering, criminology, criminal justice studies or social work.

Mario Matus, assistant director of Online Student Services at EdPlus, believes the university has experienced successful recruitment efforts because of its partnership with the Tillman Center, which helps military members transition into student life by assisting with essentials like benefits/funding processing and counseling.

In addition, EdPlus has a team of specialized enrollment advisers and coaches who are trained to answer military-related questions, streamlining support and services for the military/veteran population.

There’s also the appeal of accessibility for military members, especially active duty members, who can pursue an ASU degree online while on deployment without having to be on campus. Matus explains the university is always looking for different ways to assist the military community and better prepare them for success.

“In the past, this has included creating an internal funded scholarship to help reduce costs for our undergrad active duty students using military tuition assistance,” Matus said. “We also developed a free ASU Online orientation course for newly admitted military and veteran students to take prior to their first full class to better prepare them for the online format and military-specific resources available to them.”

ASU is notably invested in research and is deeply committed to building a bridge between students and top leading defense or security-related companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to create job opportunities for ASU alums and veterans. In fiscal year 2019, ASU researchers submitted $186 million in proposals to the Department of Defense, received more than $50 million in award obligations and reached more than $36 million in DOD-funded research expenditures.

And the mission to provide higher education resources to military members and their families doesn’t end there. “We are increasing our connection with military bases around the country so we can inform students not only about ASU, but education opportunities overall,” Matus said. “We will continue with efforts like these to support students and prepare them for success.”


From Battalions to Business Degrees

Graduating group of veterans lined up to accept their business degrees in caps and gowns shown from behind

If you happen to be one of the millions of veterans leaving the military for civilian life, you face a daunting challenge. You may have flown a gunship; you may have driven a tank; you may have commanded a unit…but how do you convince a corporate recruiter that this counts as management experience?

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, admitted to US military newspaper, “The civilian business community does not understand military service skills and how to translate them. But they want to.”

Business education can help those with a military background segue into the business world, by equipping them with the means to see how the skills from their previous career can be utilized in a different context. Simply put, an MBA teaches you to speak the language of business.

After years, or even decades in leadership positions, today’s veterans have considerable professional experience – which is very applicable to the business world. A military background, therefore, means that they are often well-prepared for management roles. Despite this, hiring executives are often skeptical and wonder how frontline experience translates to the front office.

To help uncover the challenges and advantages of an MBA education for a veteran, we spoke with Major Grégori Bassaud, who at the time of writing, was pursuing an International MBA (IMBA) at EMLYON Business School in France.

Being a veteran can mean management experience

A married 43-year-old father of two young children, Bassaud is a career officer. He spent 21 years in the French marine corps. His service was primarily spent in airborne units where he rose up the ranks as a platoon leader, a company commander and finally as a staff officer (deputy chief ops in his battalion). He’s been deployed abroad several times, including one-year tours in French Guyana and two-year tours in Réunion Island and Martinique. A skydive specialist, Bassuad has 600 freefall jumps to his name and has been awarded the National Order of Service Merit.

During his time at EMLYON, Bassaud has been impressed with the school’s lecturers, particularly with “their in-depth knowledge in their respective fields; their ability to make it simple whatever the difficulties may be.” He notes that he considered alternative graduate degrees which were less expensive than an MBA, but in the end was convinced that the return on investment would make it worthwhile. “The advantages include relevant events like the career forum, with more than 300 companies, regular testimonies from alumni through the IMBA mentoring program, which gives you access to people holding great positions. Being at EMLYON is already being in business, already being in a professional environment where you learn everyday through the context alone.”

What advantages do you think people with a military background have when they pursue an MBA?

Seniority and maturity, which offer two advantages. First real management experience: the average age of my cohort is barely 30. Only a few of my classmates have real management experience and even that is very limited—they only managed four to five people; I had to manage more than 200.

Secondly, both of your feet are on the ground. When you have gained professional experience in more than 15 countries, worked with a huge and various range of stakeholders – belligerents, allies from various countries, NGOs, diplomats, politicians, religious representatives – you have fewer certainties than your classmates. Your approach to case studies is more careful and exhaustive, you pay more attention to the details and your judgement is often rather softer than your colleagues’ – which might not be what people expect from those who’ve served in the military.

Why do you think people with a military background should consider earning an MBA?

A military background can be useful in terms of soft skills, but you also have to take into consideration your weaknesses when it comes to hard skills such as accounting, finance, marketing, and corporate strategy. Although an MBA does not provide deep insight into all of these fields, except strategy, the very broad range of topics covered gives you the sufficient tools to successfully take up your targeted position.

You should not ignore the benefit of spending a year with people younger than you when pursuing a full-time MBA. Despite their limited background, they have already gained interesting experiences and they are up-to-date, always aware of the latest technology, the latest apps, the latest online tools, etc. A year with them is an accelerated course of training in the latest trends.

How do you think networking is different for someone with a military background?

MBAs are not as widely acknowledged by employers in France as they might be elsewhere, on top of which companies can be hesitant when dealing with candidates with atypical profiles. Even companies that are aware of MBAs expect a classic career path—for instance, an engineering degree followed by an initial professional experience, then an MBA. When coming from the army, networking is much more complicated. You have to rely more on the network of former military personnel who made the switch than on the school’s alumni network. Due to this additional difficulty, having the intensive support of your career services office is useful.

After adhering to a regimented military timetable, how do you handle the challenges of attending study and social functions that happen in the late evening?

As a matter of fact, veterans are used to extended shifts. Being accustomed to early morning hours makes your life easier. You are always on time. Many of your classmates are not, despite regular warnings by the faculty. The main challenge is combining the workload with your family life, which is definitely a huge challenge. Only 10% of my classmates have children. The pace of the course is definitely set for monks, or at least for people with total freedom.

Studies suggest that people who are physically fit are also more successful in their careers. If this is true – do you think it’s another advantage for a military person?

The first thing to point out is not all military veterans remain physically fit. However, in my case, some of my classmates were surprised that I was so physically fit for my age. I also had a comparable feedback from a headhunter, telling me that it presented a good image. So I agree that it is a kind of presentation skill.


Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

Central Michigan

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance