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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

JOBS & EDUCATION

Bill Putnam, below, used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend American University in Washington, D.C.

FROM COMBAT TO CLASSROOM More veterans are heading back to school with the help of the GI Bill

By Carmen Gentile

V

ETERAN BILL PUTNAM, 43, amassed his skill set on several continents while serving in the Army and Army National Guard and later working as a civilian in war zones. As a soldier, he deployed to Kosovo twice, from 1999 to 2000 and again from

2001 to 2002; worked in media operations at the Pentagon; and served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. Following his military service, he returned to the battlefield as a conflict and documentary photographer, covering the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Despite his accomplishments, Putnam had one goal he still hoped to achieve: a college education. Putnam’s reason for returning to the classroom at the age

of 40 was similar to many who pursue higher education after completing military service: “I realized I was limiting myself economically without a degree,” he said. But it wasn’t easy. Putnam said returning to the classroom after so many years in combat was a surreal experience at first. “I’m looking around and realizing that CO N T I N U E D

JEFF WATT/AMERICAN UNIVERSITY; PROVIDED BY BILL PUTNAM

Profile for STUDIO Gannett

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017  

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017