HOUSTON (KIAH) – Veterans might face challenges when they try to move back into civilian life. However, there are several higher education in opportunities in Houston, Texas for those who served in the military.
After speaking with several veterans, many of them said they had no idea what their next move would be after retiring from the military. Luckily for them, they took advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill (GI Bill) that landed them in higher education programs here in Houston.
Ruben Rios is one of many veterans looking for life after the battlefield. Rios served 16-years in the military, he says once he got out, he feared having too much downtime would cause him to become stagnant.
Rios says he decided to seek additional education in automotive and diesel technology at Universal Technical Institute (UTI). His new goal is to join a family business working in an automotive shop.
“I felt like I was lacking in the knowledge. I knew how to do general mechanics. I could tear down an engine. I could put an engine back together. But, as far as technology goes, there’s so much advancement,” said Rios.
More than one veteran says further education is a key component to making a smoother transition from the military to the working-class population.
Darrin Brust, the president at UTI says over the last 10 years, the school has graduated over 1,700 veterans. Most people choose to pursue a degree or certificate in automotive repair, diesel training, and welding fields.
“These career schools are an opportunity for them to build on what they trained on and what they learned in the military and the equipment they used. Earn some certifications and then apply that learning in the civilian life,” said Brust.
Marine Corps Veteran Austin Newby, a recent graduate from the Michigan Institute of Aviation and Technology, says the GI Bill helped him map out his next move.
“It really helped me to be able to try different things and figure out what I really wanted to do. I was able to start off in the aviation program and found out that I really liked working on airplanes,” Newby.
Both school systems allow their military students to use the GI Bill as a steppingstone. Military veterans can pay for school or job training, tuition, and fees. they can even use government funds for housing, books, and supplies. The goal is to set you up for success.
“Well we offer opportunity well they can have a high paying skill set to where maybe after 7 months, or 12 months, or 24 months they can go into the job market with a really high-paying successful career,” said Jimenez Bailey, the Asst. Director of Education at MIAT.
Rios says education is a tool for the brain. You need knowledge on how to accomplish your goal and he has one more tip for veterans looking for their next opportunity…
“The best advice I can give is….Make the decision immediately. Don’t wait around,” said Rios.