The demographics are changing at college campuses across the country. There's a swell of older students enrolling. They're veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill.
Nicholas Roberts, 25, is from Pleasanton. He's pursuing a degree in international business at Cal State East Bay. Three tours as a Marine in Iraq make him conscious of his surroundings.
"I sit in the class. I don't like people sitting behind me. It makes me feel real uncomfortable and I always make sure I can see all the entryways in the classroom," said Roberts.
Roberts is one of more than 200 vets on the Cal State East Bay campus. One of more than 260,000 vets using the G.I. Bill across the country.
Angelo Garza, 34, served in Iraq with the Army. He's working on a degree for a career in law enforcement. He, too, believes his military background makes him a more serious student.
"That structure definitely helps me concentrate and focus more on my studies. Time management, just making sure that I'm disciplined, taking care of everything that I need to do," said Garza.
Pentagon officials credit the G.I. Bill for helping with recruitment and retention of military personnel. Starting last year, education benefits can be transferred to spouses or children. 50,000 dependents are taking advantage of that provision. The path from the war front to the future is a journey that goes one step at a time.
The number of veterans on the Cal State East Bay campus has nearly doubled in two years, and with operations winding down in Iraq, it's expected that enrollment of veterans will increase across the country in the months ahead.