Education Benefits available for Reserve Citizen Airmen

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Farrar
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” is a quote from Benjamin Franklin, but how much interest do 403rd Wing Airmen have in getting an education funded through military benefits programs?


There is a lot of interest according to Senior Master Sgt. Brett Blanchard, 403rd Wing Force Development superintendent, who has helped hundreds of interested Airmen to get the most out of military education benefits programs while putting his knowledge to work for himself.


“I used the Air Force Reserve Command Tuition Assistance Program for a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree with zero out-of-pocket expenses, except for registration fees,” said Blanchard. “It’s an amazing program.”


Over 20 years of guiding reservists at the 403rd Wing in the Education and Training Office has made him an expert on how to navigate benefits programs.


Blanchard stands ready to advise and guide Airmen through the details of qualifying for education benefits. This can include applying for tuition assistance through programs such as the G.I. Bill and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.


Tech Sgt. Manuel Cedeno works with Blanchard in the Education and Training and is currently utilizing the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.


“The reason I picked the Post-9/11 G.I. bill was that it not only pays the tuition and fees to the school, but it also pays the service member basic allowance of housing that you can use for rent or utilities, as well as a book and supply stipend up to one thousand dollars a year,” said Cedeno.


Any wing member can contact Cedeno, Blanchard, or Senior Master Sgt. Carrie Meyls, who have decades of combined experience at getting the most benefits toward education goals.


Cedeno’s knowledge is growing as he advises Airmen while continuing to use the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to fund his bachelor’s degree, and offering this tip to Airmen, he said. “You can use the AFRC Tuition Assistance program then transition to the Post 9/11 G.I. program to expand the reach of your education goals.”


Their office has helped so many people over the years to access education benefits but one person is particularly meaningful to Blanchard.


“I knew a young Airman when I first started here at the office in 1998,” said Blanchard. “I helped him use the G.I. Bill. That Airman is now Maj. Elvis Ta, the 403rd Communications Flight Commander.”


But for every success story like Maj. Ta, Blanchard is aware that the majority of service members do not make use of the education programs designed to benefit them. “There are so many people that come into the Air Force Reserve for education benefits, but the sad truth is not a lot of people follow up to use them,“ said Blanchard.


“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” is another quote from Benjamin Franklin, but the 403rd Education and Training office aims to prevent Airmen with education goals from failing to realize their full potential.


Blanchard’s goal is to assist Airmen that are using the benefits programs, to succeed and maximize their educations rewards.


For more information or questions, Airmen contact the 403rd Education and Training Office by phone at 228-377-2603 or 228-377-4408.