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Mother and son veterans realizing college dreams at Germanna

As America’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq has drawn down, the number of veterans enrolling in college is rising.

According to the Navy Times, the number of active duty members of the military and veterans taking advantage of the GI Bill to go to college increased 13 percent in 2012 to nearly 500,000.

Some of them, including 44-year-old Germanna student and GCC Veterans Services Office work study Sabrina Crenshaw have had college in mind for a long time.



Craig Hill and his mother Sabrina Crenshaw are both military veterans going to Germanna on the GI Bill. Hill is an Air Force veteran and Crenshaw is a veteran of both the Army and the Navy.

 That’s the way things worked out. Her son, Craig Hill, went into the Air Force so he could use the GI Bill for college. Now he’s returned to civilian life and is also a Germanna student. While she was in the Navy, she jokingly told her son that they would end up going to college together.

   Crenshaw is working toward a career as a paraprofessional mental health counselor.  Hill plans to enter Germanna’s Pharmacy Technician program.

“Sabrina and Craig are typical of those families with a heritage of several generations having served in the military,” says Robert M. Dixon, Germanna’s Student Veterans Counselor.  “With the duration of our military involvement in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, we can expect more occurrences where parent and child are both veterans studying at the same college.  This is an indicator of the value our veterans place on their education and the importance of the benefits they have earned for their continuing education.”

 Crenshaw, who attended a larger college before enrolling at GCC, says she likes it better because: “Germanna is more people oriented. It’s more caring. At the other college, you’re just a number. Here the staff really takes care of the students and the instructors make sure students understand what’s being taught.”

Both Crenshaw and Hill say the transition from the military to civilian life has been difficult.

“In the military you know what you’re going to do, what time you are to be there and there are consequences,” Crenshaw says.  “In civilian life, if you do it, you do it and if you don’t, you don’t.”

Hill, who is 21, says: “I’m used to the structure. But if I have a plan, I’m OK. For me, it’s difficult to be in the classroom with kids just out of high school. ”

They both said they appreciate the GI Bill’s educational benefits. “It’s nice to have your country give something back to you,” Crenshaw says. “I’m enjoying it.”

Dixon says that like many veterans, Crenshaw, who was a petty officer E6, and Hill, who was an Airman E2, bore more responsibility in the military than someone in a comparable stage in civilian life.

 “Veterans are a tremendous resource for society,” Dixon said. “They’re mission-focused. They’ve produced proven results. They know how to organize resources and people. Why wouldn’t we want to leverage that in the community? “