A Few Clouds
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Soldiers head back to the classroom
In 2010, the unemployment rate for veterans was 13 percent. It's slowly falling to around 10 percent partly because when returning home veterans choose to head back to school.
"I was in the Marine Corps, joined in 1999," said Travis Karr.
"I was in the Marine Corps for four years. First duty station was on Camp Kinser, Okanawa," John Cook said.
Each veteran has a story.
"I was with the Marine Corps from June 2008 to 2012, with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines," said Joshua Whited.
"I was deployed to Iraq, I was also stationed in Japan, and in Australia as well and Korea," Karr said.
"I was deployed to Afghanistan for 7 months and I was also deployed in the 22nd MUI for 11 months," said Whited.
"We deployed to Afghanistan and that was in Helmand Province for seven months," Cook said.
But now, each one is focused on the next chapter, education.
"It was definitely the deployment that changed my mind," said Cook.
John Cook returned from his last deployment in August. Almost immediately, he enrolled in Central Community College.
"It made me value education above all and I just really wanted to get back into school," said Cook.
Joshua Whited had the same plan. He returned from his last deployment back in February and started classes at CCC in August.
But it's not always an easy transition from being a soldier to being a student.
"It's been four years since you've been in the classrooms so you're out of your element for sure but after a few weeks you get back into the groove and just trying to take classes that's how it feels," Cook said.
But these veterans say hitting the books is paying off. And this year Central Community College has seen a boost in veteran enrollment.
"We're seeing a huge increase in enrollment right now. Here at CCC, we have over 243 Veterans in itself. Then if you want to count the dependents that also get the GI Bill, we're hitting about 350, which is pretty significant for Mid-West Nebraska. We're beating a lot of top 4 year Universities as far as numbers go," Karr said.
Central Community College has had an increase in Veterans that are enrolled here. So what subjects are they studying?
"A lot of my veterans are really going for the Criminal Justice, business and nursing fields right now. IT is also a pretty good interest with them," said Karr.
While the unemployment rate may still be high Karr says it's likely to continue to fall.
"The unemployment is still pretty high for veterans compared to the general population, but it is going down because of a lot of great services and programs that are coming out," Karr said.
Central Community College in Grand Island held a Veteran's Day Celebration Thursday.
On Monday, CCC of Hastings will hold a Veteran's Day event as well.
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