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Military Gives Garmon College Advantage

Bruce GarmonCharlotte, NC – 2013 - At age, 27 Johnson C. Smith University junior Bruce Garmon of Charlotte has seen a lot during his four years in the Marine Corps. As a result, he has grown up fast. He became a Dad at age 17, graduated from high school then served in Iraq and Kuwait. He is now married with two children, ages 10 and 6, and goes to class full time. "My daughter was born a few months before I graduated from high school," Garmon says. "It took that and the military for me to grow up."

Garmon, whose education is funded by the Post 9/11 GI Bill, sees several advantages to starting college at his age. Many of his classmates are younger but less focused, he observes. And, the GI Bill has made it affordable. He paid a total of $600 while he was in the military for the opportunity to take advantage of the GI Bill later on. It pays all of his tuition, plus a housing allowance and money for books. 

The Grand Rapids, Mich. native is the first one in his family to attend a four-year college. "I think the military is a real good tool to develop men, especially when they've not had male role models in their lives," he says. Garmon was more fortunate, having grown up with a Dad who was a pastor.

After having experienced military life and seeing "what most people may never see," Garmon feels better prepared for college. He is able to pass on some of his own wisdom to other students, both male and female. "I am so young and have done so much in life that students can still relate," he says. "I also find myself in Dad mode a lot. "Football players come up to me and see that I am older and ask me about relationship issues, careers and jobs. I tell them it’s not all about money. You have to have a secondary plan.”

Garmon found that his training as a heavy equipment mechanic in the Marine Corps now comes in handy when working on his red 1972 Chevy truck, but it’s not something he wants to do for a career. He plans to apply his musical talent as a singer and songwriter in some form of therapy when he graduates. Music is a talent he started developing while serving in the Marines. He and his fellow soldiers turned a vacant barracks into a sound studio and started recording songs about their experiences in Iraq. “It helped us deal with stress,” he said. “It was comedic and therapeutic for us.” 

Veterans still have a hard time finding jobs after they get out of the military, Garmon notes. This is one reason why he chose education as a way to transition to civilian life. He is among the more than 646,000 people who used the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2012, according to The Navy Times. The figure is up 16 percent from 555,000 the previous year.

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 22 fields of study to more than 1,300 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit www.jcsu.edu or follow the university on social media sites Facebook , Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.   

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