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Veterans finding new opportunities with higher education programs

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(KYTX) - Veterans Day is tomorrow, calling attention to the unemployment rate of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Many service members who come back from their tour of duties take college classes to help them find jobs.

Katie Gauthier visited one college that's reporting a boost in veteran enrollment.

"I was in the marine corps, joined in 1999."

"I was in the Marine Corps for four years. First duty station was on Camp Kinser, Okanawa."

Each veteran has a story...

"I was deployed to Iraq."

"I deployed to Afghanistan for 7 months and I was also deployed in the 22nd MUI for 11 months." "We deployed to Afghanistan and that was in Helmand province for seven months."

But now, each one is focused on the next chapter: education.

"It was definitely the deployment that changed my mind."

John Cook returned from his last deployment in August. Almost immediately, he enrolled in Central Community College.

"It made me value education above all and I just really wanted to get back into school." Joshua Whited had the same plan.

He returned from his last deployment back in February and started classes at CCC in August. But it's not always an easy transition from being a soldier to being a student.

"It's been four years since you've been in the classrooms so you're out of your element for sure but after a few weeks you get back into the groove," says Cook. 

But these veterans say hitting the books is paying off. And this year Central Community College has seen a boost in veteran enrollment.

"Here at CCC, we have over 243 veterans in itself. Then if you want to count the dependents that also get the GI bill, we're hitting about 350, which is pretty significant for Midwest Nebraska," says Travis Karr, veterans student coordinator for Central Community College. "We're beating a lot of top four year universities as far as numbers go."

"A lot of my veterans are really going for the criminal justice, business and nursing fields right now."

While the veteran unemployment rate may still be high Karr says it's likely to continue to fall.

"The unemployment is still pretty high for veterans compared to the general population, but it is going down because of a lot of great services and programs that are coming out," says Karr. 

Veterans Day falls on November 11th, tomorrow, so the holiday will be observed on Monday.

So keep in mind -- many county and city offices will be closed.

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