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    IANG Soldiers give back to communities with higher education


    Photo By Sgt. Katharine Silent Water | DES MOINES, Iowa. -- Sgt. Andrew Shipley, a mass communication specialist with the...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Katharine Silent Water 

    135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    In 2014, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher E. White sat down for his initial counseling as an instructor at the Iowa Ordinance Training Center (IOTC) in Johnston, Iowa. One of the questions asked was what his goals were for self-development.

    “Why don’t I enroll in school?” White asked. “I can finally finish my degree.”

    “That’s exactly what I’m talking about.” His noncommissioned officer in charge
    smiled. “You’re a teacher and we’re in an educational institution. Why wouldn’t you want to better yourself?”

    White is now working toward earning a master’s degree in Project Management at Bellevue University while continuing to work for the Iowa Army National Guard. When White isn’t teaching at the IOTC or taking online classes, he can be found mentoring individuals, coaching high school football and participating in a church group called Bridge Building.

    Bridge Building focuses on bridging ethnic and culturally diverse people to marginalize the lines between them, said White. The program allows individuals to build strong connections through book studies.

    “Giving back some of the experiences and some of the things I’ve went through is what I’m suppose to do,” said White. “I don’t want to hold that information.”

    The IANG offers state and federal tuition assistance for a variety of academic needs. While White utilizes Federal Tuition Assistance, Sgt. Andrew Shipley, a mass communication specialist with the 135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, uses the National Guard Educational Assistance Program and the Montgomery G.I. Bill. The opportunity for secondary education can open doors in both military and civilian job sectors.

    “When I got home from my deployment in 2018, I was already one week behind in classes,” said Shipley. “What led me back to school was realization that I’m nearing 17 years of service, and I need to prepare for something outside of the military.”

    Shipley’s secondary education is already allowing him to make an impact in his community outside of uniform.

    He is the president of the Grand View University Veterans Organization. The group recently contributed $800 to Marine Corps Toys for Tots and sent members to the Student Veterans of America conference in Los Angeles, California.

    “As a student now compared to a traditional younger student, I appreciated my education more,” said Shipley. “I wanted to get involved in these organizations because I felt I had missed out in my true college experience.”

    Spc. Lynda Vaughn, a human resources specialist with the 1168th Transportation Company from Perry, Iowa, also gives back to her community and Soldiers. She recently graduated from Mercy College of Health Sciences with an Associate of Science in Nursing. While Vaughn waits to take boards, she works full-time in the IANG Recruitment Sustainment Program.

    “When I’m working at the hospital or in the office I want to help people,” said Vaughn “Whether it’s fixing soldiers’ paperwork or giving patients the right antibiotics,
    I take care of them the way I would want someone to take care of me.”

    There are different avenues to a higher education. Colleges and trade schools offer countless career paths. While attaining a higher education can be an exciting adventure for some, it can be intimidating for nontraditional students.

    “I always wanted to be a nurse but thought I just couldn’t do it,” said Vaughn. “I stepped away and enlisted in the National Guard. I needed that extra boost and I needed to grow up.”

    Obtaining a degree was not made possible by financial assistance alone, but also the enduring support and collaboration from the Soldiers’ units and employers.

    “I couldn’t believe how awesome my unit and my full-time job was,” said Vaughn. “I’m beyond grateful for everyone that has supported me and being so flexible with my drill and clinical schedule.”



    Date Taken: 01.10.2020
    Date Posted: 01.10.2020 15:27
    Story ID: 358679
    Location: JOHNSTON, IA, US 
    Hometown: BONDURANT, IA, US
    Hometown: EAST ST. LOUIS, IL, US
    Hometown: WEST DES MOINES, IA, US

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