Staff Sergeant James "Jim" Louis Miller will be introducing the President at the launch of the Post-9/11 GI Bill today. Staff Sergeant Miller is currently enrolled in the program, which provides comprehensive education benefits to our veterans. We asked him to share his story with us.
I grew up in Gillette, Wyoming. Upon graduation from Campbell County High School, I went to the Navy recruiter’s office to follow in the footsteps of my father who served four years in the U.S. Navy. As fate would have it, the Navy’s office was empty that day. Not a footstep past the threshold, I heard a voice booming behind me…
"Hey there future devil dog step into my office, let me tell you about the most elite fighting force in the world."
My heartbeat steadily increased as the recruiter talked to me about the opportunities the Marine Corps held for me. The recruiter asked me what I wanted to do in the Marine Corps.
"Shoot things and blow stuff up," I replied. "Perfect he said; the Marines are looking for a few hard-charging young men. I have just the job for you; 0311 Infantryman."
(Staff Sergeant James "Jim" Louis Miller stands in front of an American flag in the Al Anbar Province in Iraq last year while deployed with the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom)
On the 20th of March 2003, I became part of history as an infantryman with the 1st Battalion 5th Marines. We pushed into Iraq and up through to Baghdad. The following year we fought in Fallujah. From 2008 to April of this year I joined the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines in the Al Anbar province where we provided training to Iraqi security forces. In between my Iraq deployments, I joined the Marine Security Guard Battalion in protecting U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. I served in Rome, Italy (where I met my future wife) and Pristina, Kosovo.
I have stories to last two lifetimes and dear friends who I’ll always keep in touch with. The Marine Corps was an incredible experience. The leadership principles I developed throughout my Military career will carry me forward as I face new challenges. Speaking of, my first new challenge begins at 0830 on August 31st; English 301, Room 319 in Innovation Hall. I’ll be a full time student with George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I will be pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Communications. This will be the first time I will attend formal classroom instruction outside the Marine Corps. Just to put this in perspective for you, I wasn’t this nervous heading back to Iraq for the third time!
The first G.I. Bill was introduced After World War II. That G.I. Bill educated and trained Veterans who became part of the workforce that significantly contributed to America’s economy in one of the greatest eras of prosperity this country has ever seen. Now, thanks to the post 9/11 enhanced G.I Bill, thousands of Veterans across the country have a unique opportunity to advance their education through higher learning at nearly any college or university of their choosing. Just as the Veterans of 1940s became a driving force in America’s success half a century ago, we, the young Veterans of the wars in the Middle East, will unite through education, innovation, and opportunity to build a greater and more prosperous nation.