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An Education Will Put You a ‘Step Ahead’

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Mark Morales, 39, enlisted in the Army National Guard 14 years ago and is still serving. Right from the start, it felt like a good fit.

“I was at JROTC while I was in high school, and the lifestyle and career path made sense to me,” he said. “It would allow me to earn a good salary while gaining experience on the job instead of going straight to college. It was perfect because at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do or what interested me.

Mark Morales, Army National GuardToday Morales lives in Ventura, California with his wife Crista and sons Luke and Levi. He was recently promoted to Staff Sergeant. Throughout his years of service and rising through the ranks, Morales also found time to get an education with the help of the VFW.

After seeing a poster advertising the VFW “Sports Clip Help A Hero Scholarship” while getting a haircut, he decided to apply and is grateful for the help.

“It opened the door to so many opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible before,” he said.

After earning his degree in airport management from the Florida Institute of Technology, Morales returned to school at San Diego Christian College to earn a degree in business leadership.

Whether other veterans or service members want to build a lifelong military career or take another path, Morales stresses the importance of a college education.

“To all my brothers, if you are looking to stay, a civilian education is one of the best ways to earn promotion points to advance to the next level. After E6 you have to have a degree to even be considered,” he said.

“If you’re not pursuing a career in the military, use these programs to help you advance into the career you want after you leave. You will be one step ahead of all other applicants by having not only a degree, but also years of military experience.

Morales is proof of what he promises.

“I’m lucky to have a military specialty that I love. I work in flight operations. The skills I learned in service led me to land a job as a Senior Airport Operations Specialist,” he said.

Through his degrees, Morales sees a clear path to progress as his career continues. He cherishes the support he has received and hopes others will take advantage of similar opportunities.

“The scholarship saved me from incurring crippling student debt,” he said. “There are a plethora of programs available to help us pay for our college education – there is no need to go into debt. I can’t even say how grateful and thankful I am.

Learn more about VFW’s “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship”.

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