It was 1975 and Bill Gunning had retired from the U.S. Air Force after more than 20 years of service. The senior master sergeant, who had deployed during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, wondered what he would do next with his life as he moved his family back to his hometown of Carlinville, Illinois.
One night, while sweeping the local high school basketball court after a game, he asked himself out loud, “What the heck am I doing here?”
The next day he set out to find a new career path and learn more about his benefits.
“There wasn’t too much call for radar operators or machine gunners,” Gunning told VA News during a visit to Washington, D.C., with an Honor Flight group from Illinois. “I went back and talked to VA, and VA guy said, ‘we’ll give ya pay for your college and give you a check to boot.’ Well, I couldn’t turn that down.”
Gunning used his GI Bill benefits and graduated from the nursing school at Lewis and Clark College in 1980. He went on to work as a nurse at local intensive care and emergency rooms units for 20 years before retiring for good.
According to Gunning, his success in life because of the education he received was so life altering that his sons also followed in his footsteps and used their GI Bill after their 20-plus years of service in the U.S. Military.
How has the GI Bill changed your life? Make sure to leave a comment below.