YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The 2nd Infantry Division commander helped kick off American Education Week on Monday by encouraging soldiers to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered by the Army.

“Today’s Army uses education to build leaders,” said Maj. Gen. John R. Wood, according to a news release issued by Area I public affairs.

“We build those leaders one at a time. Every Soldier can make a difference. They are the centerpiece of our formation.”

The week kicked off with more than 200 soldiers crowding into a Camp Stanley club to attend a symposium and panel discussion on educational opportunities, officials said.

James Campbell, Area I education director, said the Army’s promise of “an education for every soldier” should be one of the first things a soldier hears about when he or she reports to a post in South Korea.

“Once we get them in the program, it is much easier to keep them there,” the said. “Our goal is to get soldiers involved in the program before they get involved in other activities.”

Other highlights of Education Week include briefings on taking university courses while overseas, evaluating credits earned and learning about the Army’s Troops to Teachers program. Events are scheduled on bases throughout South Korea until Nov. 22, officials said.

At Monday’s Camp Stanley symposium, one of the local commanders gave the soldiers a real-world example of how to use their benefits.

“I would not have an education if it was not for the U.S. military,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Dawson, commander of the 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery.

“My folks could not afford to send me to school. So the Army National Guard paid for my bachelor’s degree. The Army paid for my master’s degree and doctorate. Tell me I did not take advantage of the educational opportunities the Army offered.”

Dawson encouraged everyone — including soldiers who did not plan on re-enlisting — to become informed about the programs.

“Whether you stay in or get out, an education will change your life,” he said. “You already know you have a job; now come get some opportunity.”

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