For veterans, going back to college is a different kind of battle.

So when Canadian Armed Forces veteran Marc Hebert successfully graduated with honours, his community was incredibly proud of him.

34 Years of Service

Marc first joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) just shy of his 17th birthday. He enrolled in a basic training program for youth who were uncertain of their future. Throughout his years, he carried 4 MOCs (Military Occupation Code) and 1 MOSID (Military Occupational Specialty IDentification). By the time he left, Marc served in the Canadian Armed Forces for a total of 34 years.

At first, Marc was anxious about transitioning into civilian life. He tells us: “I have a very diverse range of experiences within the CAF, but I had no idea how to function beyond a regimented rationale, linear lifestyle, and mission mindset. In no way was I prepared for civilian life before the transitioning process began.”

“My concern was that I wouldn’t have anything to offer society let alone be a good student in a post-modern learning environment – My last time in ‘normal’ school was in High School!”

Yet despite these fears, Marc faced these challenges head on. With help from mechanisms and resources offered by CAF, he began a smooth journey into civilian life through Academy of Learning Career College – Halifax.

Marc's first day in the Navy.
Marc’s first day in the Navy.
Submarine Dive Team
Submarine Dive Team

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A New Place Of Duty

For the first few days, Marc approached college almost like he was back in basic training.

“I was sitting in the hallway just outside of the Halifax campus at 0815 (8:15 am) ready for a complete day of uncertainty until 1630 (4:30 pm). Ms. Keilin Ramirez-Fernandez, an AOLCC Halifax Career Advisor, was there to greet me and open the door to start the day in motion at 0830 (8:30 am) with her usual awesome smile.

I immediately proceeded to assess the situation and some time later, was briefed on the Standard Operating Procedure of how business was conducted at my new place of duty.”

On the fourth day, Keilin, with a smile on her face, let Marc know that he didn’t have to report for duty each day at the same time, or stay until the very end of the day. She told Marc to just relax.

“This was my biggest challenge: realizing that I am in a whole different realm. One with a very different tempo and feel. It took awhile to get used to, but I am now very comfortable here thanks to all the very genial staff at our campus.”

From Soldier To Student: Veteran, 54, Graduates With Honours

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For Marc, the journey was a very progressive one that gave him the appropriate amount of time to ease into civilian life.

When asked if he had any advice for fellow former servicemen and women looking to go back to school, he says:

“It is never too late to learn! Anyone who ever served in the CAF–regardless of age, gender, rank, MOC, MOSID, SEC Class, Element, Component, Specialty, or length of service– will have something to offer society.”

“The first step is just a very simple thing – BELIEVE. The end result just may (pleasantly) surprise you. Go on…I ‘double-dog’ dare you!

Thanks for the inspiration, Marc!

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