Looking for a way to help military service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, George Brooks decided to offer what he knows best.
Brooks is offering free math classes in what he is calling rehab math, a refresher type of math for those transitioning back into the work force. It's the latest in a long list of volunteer activities and projects he has done in the community since retiring.
The classes are held each Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Brittingham-Midtown Community Center in Newport News.
Brooks, 89, is a Navy veteran of World War II who made his career as an aeronautical engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. He holds a doctorate degree from Princeton University and taught master's level courses at three universities for 11 years.
"Its math rehab for people who've been away from math" Brooks said. "These veterans who are coming back haven't spent much time with mathematics during the last few years, that's for sure. The idea is we provide a course that is free in a space sort of centrally located within the community."
Brooks explains that returning service members may have high school diplomas or have taken an equivalency test to get into the military. In order to be prepared for the workforce or further education, they may need additional math knowledge.
"I'm prepared to teach them once a week for as long as it's needed," Brooks said. "And I know it's needed. I'm going to be there every Wednesday. I would like to see this service benefit the people who can use it."
Brooks became something of a community philanthropist after his retirement from NASA Langley in 1974. Though he worked an additional eight years for consulting firms, he took on major roles as a volunteer.
He served with various nonprofit organizations such as the American Red Cross York-Poquoson Chapter and the Peninsula United Way. Brooks was honored with the 1992 GEICO Philanthropic Foundation's prestigious public service award and the 1995 Peninsula United Way Volunteer Service Award among many others.
Brooks worked on Project Christmas Cheer during Vietnam and Project Thank You during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 1996 he coordinated Project Remember, a campaign sponsored by the NASA Langley Alumni Association to send 1,000 care packages to U.S. troops in Bosnia.
Now he is trying to help the veterans of the most recent U.S. wars.
"I think I can help," Brooks said. "I'm 89 years old, but I still have enough energy to do something good."
Free math classes
Math classes are each Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Brittingham-Midtown Community Center, 570 McLawhorne Drive, Newport News.