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A Veteran’s Reflection on Serving Military Families and Students

This is a guest contribution by Mort Orlov, Vice President of NMSI’s College Readiness Program & Operations.

After 23 years as an infantryman in the U.S. Army, my most enduring experience and memory is the weight of responsibility I felt for my soldier’s lives. But a veteran is more than a person who has served in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps.  As a husband and father, I faced other persistent challenges including separation from family, frequent moves and planning for my children’s education. I moved more than 10 times in 23 years and each move meant a new post, a new assignment and new colleagues. As my children grew up, each move also meant a change in school.
My daughter experienced four school changes, but was fortunate enough to have mostly had good teachers and positive experiences along the way.  Yet in planning for each move, it was easy to see what little control my wife and I had over the circumstances of our daughter’s education.  On occasion, we had a choice, but in most assignments, she experienced simply what was available in the nearest public school.  She was a dedicated student, worked hard, and today is a successful high school AP English teacher.
I retired from the Army in 2004 and became a public educator, first as a high school principal and now working with hundreds of high schools across the country through NMSI’s College Readiness Program. I frequently think of our service members, both active and veterans, and their families—not only because I am one of them, but because I now have the opportunity to help ensure the success of future generations of military-connected students.  With the generous support of donors such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, BAE, Lockheed Martin and the Department of Defense Education Activity, NMSI’s College Readiness Program has expanded into 78 high schools that serve our nation’s military families and helped raise the academic bar for thousands of students and teachers with outstanding results. Over the next five years, we hope to reach at least 100 more military-connected schools.

We cannot diminish the challenge of combat for those who are deployed or will deploy in the service of our country, nor can we eliminate the separations from loved ones or lessen the number of moves. But we can do more to ensure that service members and their families have the opportunities, resources and support they need to be successful during times of active duty and beyond. On this Veterans Day, I am proud to report to the servicemen and women that live near many of our country’s military installations that their children have access to the rigorous courses and qualified teachers that will propel them to higher levels of academic achievement and help prepare them for college and career success.  I was honored to serve our country and am proud to be part of an organization like NMSI that is supporting those who continue to serve.