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Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. -- On Nov. 26, a non-appropriated funds employee from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., earned a bachelor's degree using Department of Defense employee tuition reimbursement. 

Jennifer Courtney, accounting technician here, earned her bachelor's degree in organizational management through Ashford University to further her career.

"I was able to receive assistance (with tuition) through the base twice at Ashford to earn my degree," Courtney said. "It helped me out a lot with the cost of school."

The Oceanside, Calif., native further explained she received multiple associate's degrees at a community college before transferring to the university. 

She added that the degrees allowed her to move to a higher position on base. Now with a bachelor's degree, she hopes to advance even further as positions become available. 

Courtney believes many DoD employees are unaware of the benefits they have available to them. 

"As DoD employees, we get benefits," explained Courtney. "They are there for a reason and they should be utilized; it's a shame for them to go to waste."

Francis Villeme, base education officer, also strongly encourages government employees to take advantage of their benefits. 

"Many people just don't know what they have available to them," Villeme said. "It's open to all DoD employees … anyone looking to advance their careers should take advantage (of the benefits)."

Villeme explained, the classes must be job related and the employee must pass the class before receiving any reimbursement. Although he will provide guidance and counseling to those who seek it, DoD employees must go through their respected human resource office to receive any reimbursement. 

Theresa Odom, human resource technician on MCLB Barstow, explained non-appropriated funds employees must go through the NAF HRO and general schedule employees go through the GS HRO. 

Employees must first enroll in classes related to their job field, come to the HRO to fill out a form, and then prove they completed and passed the course to receive reimbursement, Odom further explained.

Eric Panknin, also an HR technician here, added that the school must be accredited and funds are limited per fiscal year. 

"It's a first come, first serve basis," he added. 

Courtney said although she has an extremely busy personal life, she was able to complete her degree with the support of her family, school and the base. She plans to further her education and her career in the accounting field.

"Everyone should take advantage of an education and any benefits available to get one. It opens a wide variety of career opportunities and advantages," concluded Villeme.

 
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill
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