Videos: Today's Military
    Army National Guard

    Not Your Ordinary Education(02:38)

    By joining the Army National Guard, Adam Bollinger has earned extra money for college as well as learned lessons in teamwork and leadership.

    The Army National Guard is an option for students who want additional funding for college. Students willing to serve one weekend a month and two weekends a year are eligible for a range of valuable benefits.

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Adam Bollinger: My name is Adam Bollinger. I live in Lumberton, N.C. The reason why I joined the Army National Guard is because of what went on with 9/11. You know, I was wanting to join into something, but I mean, since I wanted to go to college, I figured the National Guard would be a good program to get into.

Basic Training was actually crazy at first. I mean, I didn't know what to expect, and you hear different rumors and stories. And when you get off the bus, it's not as bad as you think. I mean, it's just basically discipline, stuff that you're not used to. It's a learning experience, and I think it's something everybody needs a little taste of.

My fellow Soldiers that all went through Basic Training and everything, we're there — they were some cool people. I mean, they're outgoing also, and I mean, they've experienced a lot of stuff, and some of them were also in my unit. They went to Iraq with me, and we've been through a lot together. Yeah, so I have a very strong friendship with them.

I'm attending Robeson Community College in Lumberton, N.C., and the National Guard is paying 100 percent of my tuition and books. And I'm also getting the Montgomery GI Bill, and that's assisting for if I need any additional things for college, such as, let's just say, calculators or a computer, anything like that. I mean, it's helping me with getting the equipment or anything I need in order to finish everything, complete everything in college.

When I first learned that I was getting deployed to Iraq, I mean, at first I didn't know what to expect because I had never been over there. I mean, there was stuff going on basically almost every day. I mean, you go outside, you wait for something to happen, then when it happens you just react to it. I mean, I would've never thought that I could deal with situations like I had to deal with.

The National Guard has changed me in a lot of ways as far as being more patient. I have a lot more patience now than I had before. I think I'm more of a better person also because now I can actually sit and listen to others instead of thinking, you know, that I know everything.

People in Lumberton, N.C., when I came home and I was wearing my uniform and stuff, I mean, I have a lot of them that just come up and shake your hand and tell you that they're thanking you for serving your country and stuff. And I mean, they're actually real proud of you. I believe that they'll stand behind you 100 percent, I believe.

My name is Adam Bollinger. I belong in the North Carolina National Guard.