After serving in the Army as an infantryman for over three years, Anthony Mendez knew he wanted to go to college once he finished. “I knew that to get to the place I wanted to be in life earning a degree was a must,” he explained. He also remarked how there are many programs like his that help Veteran students. “Some programs vary from state-to-state, and some are on the federal level. I encourage Veterans to do their own research, reach out to local Veteran services organizations, the VA, and different schools to explore all the options and resources available. One [program] that comes to mind is the VA Work Study program. [It’s] a tax-free work program for Veterans that are enrolled in school that allows the Veteran to possibly work at the school they are attending, a local VA, or government office.”

Anthony has found support in the form of a VA program to help him attend school. “I’m fortunate to be participating in the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation program,” he stated. “[It’s] a work focused program that can send Veterans to school with full tuition paid, with the intention of preparing them for a new career.”

However, even with the financial help of a VA program, readjusting to civilian school life proved difficult at first. “I think transitioning from the military is difficult for a lot of service men and women, we are going from a very regimented way of life to a life that has a lot more freedom,” he said. “No one is pushing you out here in the real world. You must hold yourself accountable but once you’re able to do so and implement the values you learned from the military such as leadership, organizational skills, discipline I think that transition becomes easier. We are taught and forced to adapt to different situations so often in the military, civilian school life is no different.”

Though it’s required some adaptations, Anthony continues to use some of the skills he learned in the military in his school life. “Some skills…that I have carried over to school involve time-management, organization, discipline, maintaining a strong work ethic, accountability, and more.” His time as an infantryman has also positively influenced his career choice. “I was an infantryman in the U.S. Army and that type of work does not easily translate to civilian life. But my time as an infantryman has helped me become the person I am today and allows me to push myself to accomplish the things that I want to. I have decided to pursue a career in business, specifically marketing.”

Anthony encourages former military students attending college to persevere in their studies. “Take your time and explore/consider all your options. As mentioned before there are numerous programs for Veterans whether they are looking to pursue a career in IT, construction, business, farming, etc. there is probably a program out there for your career aspirations. Also, for those who start school and like I did consider quitting and even flunk a semester or two, know that it’s not the end, just don’t give up on yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself.”

 

Writer: Sarah Concepcion

Editors: Annabelle Colton, Julia Pack

Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley