When you think about our men and women in the military, it's usually serving in some dangerous place like Iraq, not in the classroom.
But each year, thousands of Fort Stewart soldiers take college classes to work toward college degrees. And now they have a new place to do that.
WTOC was at the building's grand opening this morning at Fort Stewart.
While crowds outside celebrated a new building, SFC Paul Quirum was inside working on an education. He likes Fort Stewart's new education center. "I've been here 15 minutes and I've registered for a class, met the professor and seen the classroom," he said.
It doubles the space teachers were using in a handful of buildings left over from World War II. "We were scattered all over Fort Stewart, meeting in battalion classrooms," education services officer Carolyn Darsey said. "We had classrooms where a student fell through the floor."
"If we're going to retain the best and the brightest, we're going to have to give them something they can be proud of," added Col. Thomas Sittnick.
Inside the new facility is space for five schools that operate on military posts across the country. The sixth school is local. "This is the opportunity long overdue for the soldiers and spouses who defend us to have access to an education center that meets their needs," said Dr. CB Rathburn, president of Savannah Tech.
If you wonder whether or not soldiers really use such a center, before the deployment began, Fort Stewart had more students than nine of Georgia's 33 colleges or universities.
The Army will also use rooms for everything from military training to English classes. Commanders say with state-of-the-art places to teach, an educated soldier becomes even more valuable.
Installation managers say the new center also provides for distance learning, so soldiers can take classes only offered at other campuses. Plus those who have access to computers--even if they're deployed--can take classes back here at home.