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Guest Column: Honoring Veterans

By Dr. Edward C. Ortell,
Citrus College Governing Board Member

Each year, our nation’s annual observance of Veterans Day pays fitting tribute to the men and women who have served in the United States military. As we honor their service and sacrifice, it is a good time to reflect on the importance of the GI Bill to millions of veterans.

Nearly all Americans have benefited in some way from the GI Bill. My father, a World War II veteran whose brother was killed in action (KIA) in the Philippines, used the education benefits to change the course of his and his family’s future. From his roots as a sharecropper in the Midwest, the GI Bill made it possible for him to ultimately earn a Ph.D. and become a professor of mathematics and astronomy. Over the course of his career, he positively impacted the lives of thousands of students.

Since its inception, the GI Bill has undergone a number of changes, but it remains one of the most important benefits of military service today. According to, “The Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, and dependent GI Bill programs help service members, veterans, and families reach their education goals.”

In the next few years, the number of veterans that will transition from the military to civilian life is expected to grow. Many of them will enroll in colleges and universities to gain the necessary skills and degrees that will lead to rewarding careers and a good quality of life for themselves and their families. And today’s veterans understand that attending a community college is a good way to stretch their education benefits under the GI Bill.

Community colleges are also well-equipped to provide the important support services veterans need. Those services can include GI Bill processing information and assistance, specialized counseling, peer support groups and many others. Many community colleges have veteran’s centers that provide a “one stop” approach that gives veterans a convenient means of accessing the benefits they have earned and the academic support they need.

As Veterans Day approaches, we are reminded that we owe our nation’s veterans a debt of gratitude. They have made tremendous sacrifices for their country, and they deserve our heartfelt appreciation. They also deserve an opportunity to acquire an education that will result in rewarding careers and will allow them to continue contributing to society as they succeed in life.

About the Author:
Dr. Edward C. Ortell is the senior governing board member at Citrus College and a Professor Emeritus at Pasadena City College. He has served on the California Community College Trustees (CCCT) state board of directors and eight terms as president of the Citrus College Board of Trustees.

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