AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — For those leaving the military, many ask “what’s next?” And for some, that answer is higher education, so West Texas A&M University and Amarillo College are trying to make that transition for veterans as seamless and as easy as possible.
When someone enters the next step of their education, it can be a lot to understand or grasp.
And for veterans and active duty military, that process can be even further exacerbated by additional processes.
“It can be daunting because our veterans come to us with different experiences and the military structure is very different than your typical college programs and society here,” said James Thompson, military and veterans community coordinator at WTAMU.
According to Thompson and Veteran Coordinator at Amarillo College, Kelly Murphy, there are many different benefits available to veterans such as the Montgomery GI Bill, post-9/11 GI Bill, and the Hazelwood Act.
“The Montgomery GI Bill is the one that has been around the longest and for the veteran it does not pay tuition or books, but it gives them a cost of living basically and that is based on how many hours they are enrolled in to be a full-time student. The post-9/11, it pays tuition and gives the student a book stipend that goes directly to them and they get a cost of living. That cost of living is a little bit less than what it is on Montgomery,” said Murphy.
“The Hazelwood Act is a Texas supplement tuition assistance program for veterans from Texas that enlisted in texas attending a state school,” added Thompson.
Thompson said that West Texas A&M also has the amplify program for active duty military that are currently enrolled at the university.
“Which waves fees for our active duty students and most of our active duty students are in fact distance learners. So if they are using tuition assistance and the amplify act, they can go to school essentially for free,” said Thompson.
Cameron Taylor Quick, a veteran who is attending Amarillo College and majoring in criminal justice said having the assistance and help at Amarillo College is preparing him as he graduates in December and moves over to WT.
“Being able to ask questions. Nobody here will look at me like I’m dumb or like I’m doing, everybody here expects that what they need to do is be a helping hand, outside of paperwork, or outside of some rule of some specific position has helped me out a lot to help me get to a university,” said Quick.
Thompson said it is a great honor to serve and prepare these veterans and military service members as they take their next steps.
“I also felt like it was an obligation that they came to us, they came to us to learn job skills or knowledge skills that they will use to better their communities or better their prospects in life,” said Thompson.
Thompson said currently WTAMU has 600 military community folks enrolled, with 250 of those being veterans or active duty military, while Murphy added that Amarillo College has 300 veteran and their dependents currently enrolled as of the fall semester.
According to the U.S. News & World Report, at the beginning of 2022, WTAMU’s online bachelor’s degree programs ranked number 1 in Texas for veterans in Texas and number 15 overall, and the online MBA program ranked number 3 in Texas for veterans and number 48 overall.