National Guard Shouldn’t Sacrifice Education to Serve a Schedule

For some reason, and it defies common sense to me, university and college schedules in Illinois have long ago broken with the National Guard training schedule. I can’t believe I’m the first person to ask some of these questions, but it’s simply my nature to do so when it feels as if something unjust is taking place.

And, I don’t think any malice is at work here. Sometimes, bureaucratic changes, which can be as glacial as they are neglible to the human eye, can be disruptive in ways wholly unforeseen.

Currently, at most Illinois colleges and universities, active Guard members lose out on instruction because of scheduling conflicts that are now baked into this ‘business as usual’ mindset. We have to break ourselves of this lackadaisical approach, expecting more of ourselves as well as those in charge of making these decisions.

No Guard members approached me with this story, I must be utterly clear and say this. It is a narrative I have heard for 8 years, told to me or heard around me again and again. Veterans and Guard members don’t complain, or rarely do. To do so would be contrary to serving their country.

Faculty and staff do bend over backwards to accommodate these schedule issues for Guard members. It seems a shame to have their educational experience shortchanged or shortcut in any way, and only because we can’t manage a calendar effectively.

How ineffective are we? Can one special interest group or power center in higher education really not see the value of having Guard members in their classrooms on campus from Day One?

Many moving stories have I heard about a veteran or Guard member’s presence in a class. If you’re a student in an interactive lecture without that perspective of service and sacrifice, it eliminates opportunities to elevate and expand the discussion. This cuts all ways.

So, why are we not asking the question, why? Why are we doing this to Guard members? Why are we doing this to these communities?

It was the National Guard that often was called up to go to our overseas military interventions most would call wars. Too many know that service can lead to sacrifice. We shouldn’t be asking the National Guard to sacrifice anything else at all. They shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything in their college and university education.

We need to be thinking more about how we can better serve each of them!

It’s then up to legislators and deciders to ask the right questions, listen to the answers, and incorporate all of this with experience and innovation to challenge the status quo with a better approach and structure moving forward.

Well, we know these political parties are incapable of doing any of that.

It falls to us, the voters, to make these demands become a reality. We must be focused and targeted enough, consistent and loud enough, and from as diverse a chorus of voices as possible.

I believe that most people want to do right by themselves and by others. They don’t want to do harm. They want to do the best for as many people.

Here, it seems pretty simple what the right answer is.

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