Spokane North Notes

A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club

July 14, 2014

Editor:  Jim Minkler 

Photos: Jim Minkler

Meeting Matters:

          The meeting was called to order by Lenore Romney, convening the meeting in place of President Jon Heideman who was not able to attend.  Romney commented on the sweltering weather being more akin to August, and Sergeant of Arms Bruce Ellwein kept to the summer theme by stumping the members with a number of questions related to summer, revealing the fact that the club was clueless as to the meaning of the “dog days of summer.”   

Books for Warriors

        Image  Sly Chatman, Spokane Falls Community College Program Coordinator for the college’s educational operations at Fairchild Air Force Base (FAFB), himself retired from the Air Force after 22 years of service, explained to the club about the excellent facility on base called the Fairchild Air Force Base Education Center. Chatman stated that there are other colleges present in the facility besides Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC).  Whereas SFCC offers up to an associate degree, Park University, Emory Riddle University, and Webster University offer baccalaureate and even graduate degrees.  FAFB is the largest employer in the Spokane area, Chatman explained, so there is a need to provide educational services.  The Education Center provides classes mostly in the evening hours, but some are also provided during the noon hour.  The facility provides not only classrooms but computer and science labs.

          The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), Chatman stated, serves all active service members in the Air Force and all are urged to participate.  The goal of CCAF is for service members to attain an Associate Degree.   Chatman shared that the degree contained 64 semester credits, with 24 credits being of a technological nature for training specific to the Air Force service member’s assignment, 6 semester credits were for leadership and 4 semester credits were for physical education received through basic training.  The general education component, Chatman explained, consists of 15 semester credits and those are the credits, along with 15 elective credits, that can be delivered by SFCC or the other institutions of higher education at the FAFB Education Center or be part of their military training. 

          Although the Air Force wants every Air Force member to attain an associate degree, many do not, and it takes some 14 years to do so, Chatman explained.  There are a number of reasons for this, Chatman shared, such as busy and shifting assignments, deployment, and costs of the education.  This is not the same as the GI Bill, Chatman differentiated, which is available for veterans.  For active service members, there is $4,500 of taxpayer money available to pay for tuition, but this is only tuition, Chatman emphasized, and unlike the GI Bill for veterans it does not cover such things as other incidental costs of education like books and lab fees.  Books can be very expensive, Chatman stated, which can become such an obstacle to many service members that books alone become the reason why service members do not continue to complete an associate degree, either through CCAF or a community college like SFCC.

          “The Books for Warriors Program,” which Chatman started, “is to help FAFB members achieve their degree. Rotarians can help with supporting this program fiscally,” Chatman suggested.  The Books for Warriors Program is actually ran through the Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation for Scholarships, Chatman added, so money can be given the Foundation with the stipulation that it be spent on the Books for Warriors Program.  “About 99% of every dollar goes to the service member to buy books to further their education, so you know your donation is really being put to a good purpose,” Chatman stated. “We need to tell active Air Force members to pursue their academic goals now, not to wait until after they are discharged.  The push is to finish the degree.  The Books for Warriors Program allows them to do that,” Chatman concluded.