Happy Father’s Day!

A wise man at DANTES pointed out to me that this Sunday is Father's Day and, to be fair and unbiased, I'd better get busy on a blog about it! I'm abashed to admit that I hadn't really looked at the calendar, and was caught by surprise. Doubly so, as my Dad's birthday is the 12th.. **sigh** I've already fallen back into my “so sorry but your card will be late” modus operandi.

Fathers are often the unsung heroes of family life. If you were to judge American life by the sitcoms on TV, Dads go off to work to support their families, get verbally abused by their spouses and children, are clueless about modern life, and otherwise are never expected to take part in the day-to-day functions of home life. That is as far from the truth as you can get.

As I mentioned in my blog on Mother's Day, my Dad retired from a career in the Air Force. We moved often, and there were times he was absent from our lives, due to isolated tours and business trips. I was at a young age, and I must admit the best part of his traveling was finding out what he brought back for me and my brother. But, I also have memories of the family sitting down at the dinner table, sharing the day's events and dramas. No matter what happened, I knew he always had my back.

I never knew how much that was the case until much later. Skip forward a few years (we'll bypass the tempestuous “teen” years, thank you very much) and I've graduated from high school and am attending University. My life is unfocused and I'm getting tired of working full time and going to school full time, with no time for me. My Dad had always suggested going into the military, but up until now, that was not what I wanted to do. Suddenly, it wasn't such a bad idea after all. Maybe because he didn't push the issue, until it was my own idea. Maybe he's a wise man, after all.

After talking with several recruiters, I decided to join the Navy. People asked my Dad if that bothered him, being career Air Force and all. He would just reply, “No. I'm just glad she's signing up with ANY Service. She's going to get an education and a job, and that's fine with me.” Go, Dad! I chose the Communication field, and went into the Delayed Entry Program, as there wasn't an available school seat for almost a year. So, jump ahead a year: I've quit my job, had my farewell “Anchor's Aweigh” party, and I'm all set to fly off the next day to boot camp in sunny Florida. I go downtown to the Navy recruiter office for final processing and get a load of bricks dumped on me: They very calmly tell me that my medical screening is over a year old and I don't have time to get a new one. I was less than calm - I was devastated! I lost my school seat, my rating, everything. No way was I going to go undesignated to a ship and chip paint. So I told them to stuff it, or words to that effect. This is where my Dad took control, Bless him. He got on the phone to our local Congressman, explained the situation, and asked him what he was going to do about it. Wish I could have heard that conversation! Next thing I know, I get a phone call from the Navy recruiter telling me to come in to pick my rating and they will make it happen. Awesome, Dad! My “knight-in-shining-armour.”

So, why am I sharing another of my family memories? To get you to think of what your Dad (or Dad-like figure) has done for you in getting you where you are today. Without my Dad's intervention, I wouldn't have a wonderful husband and two great sons, had a Naval career that brought me great satisfaction, traveled the world, and, not least, finally gotten that degree I started way back in the beginning of all this. Fathers can be a positive influence in their kid's lives every day by providing instruction, guidance, support, and advice (not always asked for or heeded!). Or, by making that all-important life-changing phone call, if need be. So, to all the Dads out there that may not get the recognition, respect or honor that they deserve: “I salute you!” Now, get out there and fire up the grill. I feel a BBQ coming on.

And to my Daddy: thanks and I love you! You may not remember everything you did for me, but I do. And that's what really matters. Virtual hug!

For valuable education resources, check out the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Web site http://www.dantes.doded.mil/index.html.

Nancy Hamilton, DANTES Editor

Happy Mother’s Day!

Whatever you call her – Mother (my personal favorite), Mom, Ma, Mater, Mamma, or Mommy – don't forget that this Sunday is her big day!

I am fortunate in that my Mother is still with me, and this week I broke a lifetime habit of tardiness and actually got my Mother's Day card mailed on time! Hope she doesn't faint. Ha! She got the requisite 'cat' card (I always give cards with cats on them!), but also a sappy one that shows just how much she means to me. Not that I could ever express that in words.

My Mother isn't famous, she didn't cure the common cold, she didn't climb Mt. Everest, she didn't even go to college. But, she did a great job raising my brother and me, made sure we had a happy childhood, and gave us the tools we would need to survive and maybe even succeed in our adult lives.

She and my Dad met in the Air Force (he was her supervisor!). He eventually wore her down and they got married. When she was pregnant with my brother, she had to leave the Air Force. Seems, at the time, women were incapable of being both a Mother and a Service member. Oh, how things have changed! My Dad's job meant he transferred every 18 months or so – yes, that often! Plus, he had a couple of isolated tours, and traveled often. That meant it was up to Mother to keep the family running smoothly, for the most part anyway. When he retired and they had to decide where to settle, they chose a place that had a university nearby, so that my brother and I could live at home while getting a degree. See, even though nether of them had gone to college, it was important to them to give us the opportunity. My brother knew what he wanted and got his degree, then a job, then a wonderful family life. Showoff! Me, I took another path – a few years of college fun and games, then I joined the Navy. Not a bad choice – I eventually got my own wonderful family life and my degree. Just took me a little longer.

So, why am I sharing all of this? Hopefully, to get you to take a moment to think about how you got where you are today – and who helped you along the way. I hope your Mother was by your side, helping you and supporting you, like mine was. Or, maybe you had someone else in that role. Whoever it may have been, they probably made difficult choices and sacrifices for you, all in order to give you a good life and those life tools I mentioned earlier. And maybe even the desire to pursue higher education (I hope so!).  If they are still with you, be sure to give them a big THANK YOU and hug on Sunday. Mine gets a virtual hug this year – Love you mucho, Mother!

Oh – and if my sons are reading – be sure to make it MILK chocolate, not that dark stuff. ; )

For valuable education resources, check out the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Web site http://www.dantes.doded.mil/index.html.

Nancy Hamilton, DANTES Editor


Check out the May DIB!


 Some of the articles include:

- Join DANTES and Navy VolEd in celebrating the big 4-0

- 2014 GED voucher and reimbursement information

- SOC updates

- ACE military programs webinar dates

- TTT News and Transitioning from Troop to Teacher

- From the Desks of the Senior Enlisted Advisor and Reserve Component Advisor

- Changes to Service education programs

- New DANTES Web site links

- OASC & CPST - One registration, two programs

Putting off your education? Don’t!

pro·cras·ti·nate (verb) to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.
ma·ña·na  (Spanish noun) tomorrow; the (indefinite) future.
“I'll think about that tomorrow.” Scarlett O'Hara's famous last words in “Gone With The Wind” by Margaret Mitchell

I am the Queen of the Procrastinators. Every year on January first, I resolve to do my income tax returns as soon as those pesky forms arrive. And every year I flip the calendar to April and say, well, I won't go into what I say. Birthday cards? I buy them early, and maybe, just maybe, I'll mail them. Christmas presents are supposed to be wrapped in plastic grocery bags, right? Right? And don't even get me started on last year's vacation pictures that I was going to edit, caption, and upload to the cloud for everyone to see. In other words, I am too often like Scarlett – I put a hand to my forehead, close my eyes, and say, in a breathy Southern drawl - “I'll think about that tomorrow!”

Fortunately, one thing I didn't procrastinate about was my education. I started taking college courses way back before I joined the Navy (I wrote my papers on parchment paper with a quill pen, according to my smart-aleck sons). During my career, I used tuition assistance to take courses as my duties allowed, took a subject-specific GRE, and used ACE-recommended credits for my Navy training and experience. It may have taken me over 15 years, without much in the way of helpful education counseling I might add, but I finally put it all together in a degree plan and received my bachelor's degree. Not bad, considering my ‘mañana’ tendencies.

If I were to try the same thing today, it would go much, much easier. Now there are many programs and services in place that make the entire education process easier: SOC and MOUs ensure Service members’ credits transfer with them so that they don't have to repeat courses; the Joint Service Transcript (JST) and Air Force Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) transcript consolidate military training and experience into recommended credits that college institutions may apply to degree programs to reduce time and money for Service members; education counselors, both human and virtual, as well as agencies like DANTES, are available to help with every step of the way. Many resources, like OASC/CPST and the MWR Library, are in place with the sole purpose to help Service members reach their education goals. Service members no longer have to go it alone to reach their goals. Expert help is there for the asking.

So, to all you procrastinators out there - GET STARTED, if you haven't already. What are you waiting for? Meet with an education counselor, formulate a plan for your educational goal, move toward it, and don't wait until tomorrow! Tuition assistance is here now, but changes are in the wind. Downsizing is on the horizon. Take advantage of your education benefits NOW, while you still have them. No excuses. No 'mañana'. No “I'll think about that tomorrow.” Get started today!

Now, I'm off to mail my Valentine's Day cards. Maybe I'll add a note to say that they are for 2015 and be early for a change!

For valuable education resources, check out the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Web site http://www.dantes.doded.mil/index.html.

Nancy Hamilton, DANTES Editor

April DIB now on line

Check out the DANTES April DIB at :


Articles include:

- Evolving through collaboration and innovation: TTT State/Regional Managers annual meeting

- Celebrating VolEd's 40th anniversay with #My5Words campaign

- CLEP/DSST-A-Thon held at Ramstein Airbase

- DANTES survey identified potential JST enhancements

- TTT Critical MASS

- Fair Winds and Following Seas to DANTES Reserve Component Advisor

Nancy Hamilton, DANTES Editor

Top Degrees Employers Want in 2014

Thinking about transitioning from the military into the civilian labor market soon? With all of the news about unemployment rates, reductions in the size of the military forces, and an economy that isn’t embracing or hiring recent college graduates, some people may fear that there is a lack of options as a veteran seeking employment. However, there is hope. A recent report produced by the National Association of Colleges and Employers says that employers expect to increase their hiring of recent college graduates by at least 7.8%.

In general, the report shows that employers are most interested in hiring graduates with bachelor’s degrees in business, engineering, computer/information science, sciences, and communications disciplines. More specifically, these top majors include:

  • Business degrees in Finance, Accounting, Business Administration/Management, Management Information Systems, and Marketing.
  • Science degrees in Mathematics (including Statistics), Chemistry, and Physics.
  • Engineering degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Chemical Engineering.
  • Communication degrees include Communications and Public Relations.

Notice that many of these degrees require a heavy emphasis in math and written/verbal communication. If you have not begun to pursue your college education, consider using the Online Academic Skills Course or the College Placement Skills Training provided at no cost to active duty and reserve military members. Also, talk to your Service’s local or virtual professional military education counselor about your degree options. If you are already in school and need assistance in a certain subject, reach out to your school’s academic support center (sometimes called Math and Writing Lab or Learning Support Center). Even if you are attending an online school, additional academic support is available to you.

Don’t fret if you are in school and not pursuing one of these degrees. However, you do need to know the job outlook for your potential occupational field and post-military location. To find out more about employment trends for a particular state, check out the national CareerOneStop website.

For valuable education resources, check out the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Web site http://www.dantes.doded.mil/index.html.

Taheesha Quarells is the Education Project Manager at DANTES. With over 10 years of experience, she is dedicated to expanding academic and career development opportunities for military members, veterans, and their family members.

Too Old for School? Part 2

Veterans Says No!

Anyone at any age with the desire to learn can “do college.” I can attest to this based on the many phone inquiries I receive here at DANTES from individuals of varying ages, asking for transcript information. The primary reason they are asking is because they are going back to school. Other reasons for transcripts include  employment verification or  for VA programs, such as the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP).

If I had to guess the average age of the veteran that is contacting DANTES for related information, the statistic would be greatly skewed! Although the average age of today’s college student is about 29 years of age, the average age is on the rise. In fact, we can expect that it will continue to increase as the “not so average” older adult and some veterans 60+ years of age are jumping in to “do college.” From the words of one of the wisest of DANTES customers, “Age is only my number and I want to finish my education to have something to show and pass to my grandchildren’s children.”  So, what are you waiting for?  Don’t let age restrict you. Jump in and learn how to “do college” today!

For valuable education resources, check out the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Web site http://www.dantes.doded.mil/index.html.

Stacey Kirkpatrick is the Examinations Program Operations Manager for DANTES. She has over 10 years experience helping military members reach their education goals.

Too Old for School? Part 1

The Brain Says No!


graphic of brain synapsesI'm old. There, I said it. The person staring back at me in the mirror has to be my Mother, not me. My joints do an impersonation of the Snap! Crackle! And Pop! cereal characters when I stand up. I can't count the number of times I’ve had to retrace my steps to remember what I came into the room for. And, um, what was I saying? Oh yeah - does all of that mean I'm too old to go back to school? Hmmm... not so fast there.

The jury is still out on whether mental exercises magically stave off old age in the brain, but some studies at least show promise (http://www.nia.nih.gov/newsroom/2014/01/cognitive-training-shows-staying-power). I think it is just common sense that the brain should be exercised every bit as much as the body to keep them both in shape. And nothing exercises the brain like going to school – whether to complete a degree, get a certification, or just gain knowledge and skills that help with your job and/or life. Researching and memorizing facts and creating designs and applying knowledge and... the list goes on and on. All that mental exercise can only do you good!.

It can be scary to go back to school if you haven't been there in a while, but rather than sit there and tell yourself “I can't do that,” get up and say “That sounds like fun!” Do some research, find the school/program that fits your goals, and get started. Ana Dinescu's blog post “I'm Too Old. It's Too Expensive.” discusses five issues returning students should consider, including the question of age. Check it out at http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/university-venus/im-too-old-its-too-expensive.

Now excuse me while I peruse this college course catalog. If only I could remember what for. **sigh**

For valuable education resources, check out the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Web site http://www.dantes.doded.mil/index.html.

Nancy Hamilton, DANTES Editor