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NEWS | June 4, 2013

Education: It's not just an EPR bullet

By Master Sgt. Randall Fontenot 628th Civil Engineering Squadron first sergeant

After two-plus years as a first sergeant, I've seen many Airmen pursuing their education for the sole purpose of earning an EPR bullet. While I won't argue their philosophy, I will argue that the pursuit of education is much more than an EPR bullet. The benefits of an education, while certainly somewhat measurable financially, are often immeasurable in terms of personal growth.

I recently discussed this topic with a friend when he made the following statement: "knowledge is the one thing that no one person can ever take from us."

What a profound statement! In a society that places value and status on material possessions, the one thing we can never be stripped of is the hard work and dedication that goes into achieving a CCAF, a bachelor's or master's degree. Material possessions can be replaced, the power of knowledge, and the doors it unlocks, cannot.

Many of us focus on the here and now; how can we stand out among our peers? What can we do to improve our chances of promotion? How do we check all those blocks on our EPR's? Education meets all those objectives; but more importantly, it prepares us for life outside the Air Force, a life we will all inevitably face.

The decision to continue one's education has to be made for each individual's personal reasons and at a time when that Airman feels prepared to make this huge commitment. For those who have already made the commitment, I salute you. For those who have not taken that first step, I would encourage you to take advantage of the educational opportunities afforded you to for a better quality of life for you and your family; not just for another EPR bullet.