At AMU, we don’t field sports teams and you won’t find a stadium with our name on it. We’re a worldwide team of students and alumni who proudly serve their nation and their communities. AMU’s slogan, Our Athletes Don’t Play Games, illustrates how every day is game day for our students and alumni.
For our fifth and final story in the #OADPG series, we are diving into the Navy. We encourage you to show your pride, like Bill McCormick, and your colors. Check out the new AMU ‘athletes’ gear today! A portion of the proceeds will go to Team Semper Fi.
By Bill McCormick
Staff, American Military University
I grew up as a nomad, because my father was in the oil business. As a child, I had the privilege of growing up in Iran, Libya, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Saudi Arabia. When we lived in Libya, the USS McDonald made a port visit and I met a lot of American sailors. My dad told me about the time that he was in the Navy during World War II and Korea, and I started thinking that I wanted to be a sailor.
Three years later, I was off to boarding school because the high school for Americans in the Middle East was not good or stopped at ninth grade. Once I graduated, my parents said they would help me go to college, but I looked at the facts and realized that they had already spent the money for my college education on boarding school. So I joined the Navy to receive the G.I. Bill to pay for college.
Not knowing what I wanted to do for a job in the Navy, I went into submarines as a non-designated fireman. I spent four exciting years in the Navy but did not take advantage of the Navy Education Program. I decided to leave the Navy because I had made eight submarine patrols. I had seen more than most people do in a lifetime, having served over 570 days under water. I transitioned out of the Navy and started working in the so-called “real world”.
My Turning Point: Going Back to the Navy
I finally had an epiphany and started at a community college in Odessa, Texas. But I really missed the camaraderie of the military and reenlisted in the Navy. I went back to submarines and made my way to E5. I was an Interior Communications Electrician, a career field which was vastly becoming an advanced technical field.
I never really had the quintessential moment in my career or education that pushed me in one direction over another. I was always just moving forward, trying to do the right thing. My commanding officer advanced me to E6 and he recommended I change career fields. Following his advice, I changed my career field to Navy Career Counselor. I left the submarine force and became a surface sailor.
McCormick is pictured in U.S. Navy colors for AMU’s new ‘Our Athletes Don’t Play Games’ collection.
I started dabbling in education, but I didn’t get anywhere fast, mainly because I was taking care of my sailors. That’s when I had another realization; I had to take care of the first sailor that I saw every morning: me. I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2004 and received my master’s in Human Relations in 2007. I helped servicemembers by serving as the Education Service Officer in Yokosuka, Japan and in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I later became the Education and Training Chief at Vandenberg AFB.
Serving Servicemembers through Education
In 2013, I had a life-changing event when my wife, Mollie, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer. I needed to be more available for her, so I left government service. I found my new home at American Military University. It was my honor to join AMU in June 2013, where I continue to help servicemembers today. One of the many ways I serve them is by helping them navigate higher education with confidence.
Over the years, I have come to understand that many adult students are very confident in their jobs and personal lives. However, they’re sometimes overwhelmed when it comes to their education. It’s great being a part of an organization which understands this problem, and helps students find and achieve their educational goals. I have seen all sides of military education, from being a servicemember while pursuing my own education, to being a military base education services officer (ESO) and an AMU education coordinator. Each arena has its own unique needs and concerns, but we lead by putting our students first.
When I hear “Our Athletes Don’t Play Games” and I look at all of the servicemembers that I’m privileged to help, it reassures me that our students are disciplined and motivated. They take care of business. They do what needs to be done for them to be successful, both in their careers and in life. This is seen regularly when our students are deployed to combat zones or aboard ships, but they continue working toward their goals. I am always amazed by students completing classes in very difficult situations. It is true: Our athletes don’t play games!
Ready to Show Your Colors?
A portion of proceeds from the sale of AMU Campus Store items will be donated to Team Semper Fi. This charity supports recovery through sport for more than 1,000 servicemembers from all branches of the military who have overcome significant challenges in their service to our country, and have embraced the fighting, athletic spirit on their road to recovery.
What’s your branch story? Send us your branch story for a chance to be featured in your own branch shirt.