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- I thought I’d travel the world as a linguist in the US Air Force but ended up in Augusta, Georgia.
- When I left the USAF, I enrolled in an MBA program using my GI Bill benefits.
- The U.S. Soldiers Bill provided a residential stipend for distance education that I was traveling on while I was in school.
When people think of joining the US Armed Forces, they likely have some different visions in mind. It will definitely be difficult, but you will create some of the strongest friendships in your life and you will be able to travel the world.
This is what I thought when I joined the Air Force in late 2009. Join as a linguistThe recruit dazzled me with tales of distant lands that I might one day visit. Korea, Germany, Alaska, Hawaii, and the UK were all on the list of possibilities, which seemed positively odd to a girl who had barely left the US.
Sadly, my hopes were dashed when I was given Arabic as my designated language to learn – and was later told that I would live in Augusta, Georgia, for the rest of my career. So, yeah, I’ve clearly traveled across the United States from California and down into the Deep South.
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Priority was given to travel after leaving the Air Force
Seven years later I left the Air Force (and Georgia) to strike on my own. I didn’t have any solid plans, but I was pursuing an MBA from Norwich University, a school that specializes in distance education. And since I didn’t travel much in the Air Force, my first priority was hitting the road.
this means home saleI put all my things in storage, and put my dog in a thin-sided shelter on her first trip to Europe.
I will not lie. It was terrifying leaving behind a career with no clear destination in mind. I chose my degree with the hope that it would help me diversify my skills while I was thinking about what I was going to do.
But from the moment I arrived in Madrid, Spain, I knew my life had changed. Travel filled a need I didn’t know I had, and I haven’t slowed down since.
I’m a writer now, navigating my way around the world while telling my stories. I wasn’t then, though, and the only way I could afford to travel was through the good old US Air Force.
I used GI Bill to travel and get an education
Many of us have heard of J Bell, helping service members achieve their higher education goals. Depending on which version of the GI Bill you choose, you could receive several tens of thousands of dollars in funding toward your degree.
While the book’s salary was nice and obviously free education is something I will always be grateful for, it was the monthly housing payments that gave me the freedom to move around.
Generally, the GI Bill calculates your Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) based on the location you go to school. This means that if you attend classes in, for example, San Franciscoyou will be eligible to receive $4,797 per month for housing.
However, you will also get a housing allowance if you are registered online education. The figure for that is calculated at 50% of the national average for housing, so your monthly payments (for 2022) are $917.
Obviously, this is well below the total you’d get if you were enrolled in a local class, but taking advantage of distance education also opens the door to absolute flexibility. $917 a month isn’t a lot of money, but it does finance my travel across Europe and Asia for the better part of the year I’ve been studying.
There are conditions for using this program of course. Your maximum benefit is 36 months of school, which is enough for a four-year degree (although some people may get up to 48 months of benefits).
for you Allow monthly housingaNice It also depends on how much school you attend. In order to maximize payments, you will need to register as a half-time student or more. Those with fewer classes get fewer benefits from the MHA.
Nowadays, veterans can take advantage of the Forever GI Bill, which never expires and can be used at any time in your life. However, the benefit of distance education remains the same, which means that new veterans can also take advantage of distance education to travel the world.
My GI bill days are long overdue, at this point I can make a living from working Full time as a freelancer. But I will never forget that my love for travel arose – and survived – from the benefits I reaped during my time in the USAF.