by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs
5/7/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The
Soldier takes aim and aligns his iron sights with his target. All
distractions are blurred as he examines his goal with the intensity of
an individual determined to succeed. The crack of gunfire penetrates the
empty firing range. He's rewarded with the thump of another hit. The
next target is 50 meters out, just as its predecessor.
The range spans his entire life, pocked with goals 50 meters apart. Each
goal is a step in a journey toward a bigger prize; success.
"I always advise Soldiers to set their goals in 50 meter increments,"
said Command Sergeant Major Eugene J. Moses, Command Sgt. Maj. of Joint
Base Elmendorf-Richardson. "Each target is the goal you want to achieve.
After you achieve it, [aim] farther down."
Setting short-term goals allows individuals to make consistent progress
toward a larger goal without losing motivation due to slow progress.
Deployments, field training, and changes of station are just some of the
unique responsibilities a military service member needs to juggle with
their personal life while pursuing an education.
"The most difficult obstacle I've overcome would be achieving personal
goals that compete with professional goals [for my time]," Moses said.
"Trying to get a degree, go to in-residence classes and online classes,
being a father, a husband, a Soldier; it's been challenging."
After 30 years as a combat engineer in the Army, Moses walked across the
stage with approximately 40 other college graduates from a variety of
different schools and accepted his diploma for a Bachelor's of Science
degree in business administration -- four years after actually
The road to a better education may not be easy or short, but Moses
persevered. He said it was definitely worth it, and strongly encourages
other service members to do the same.
"Stay on track," Moses said. "Don't lose your focus, don't lose your drive."
Moses actually graduated from college in 2011, but his graduation
ceremony was delayed due to his responsibilities as a Soldier and NCO.
Shortly after graduating, Moses deployed to Afghanistan and then
received orders to a new installation.
Life crept in and for four years, Moses did not have the opportunity to formally be acknowledged for his years of work.
After accepting his ceremonial diploma, Moses took his place with the
professors, congratulating each new graduate as they walked across the
stage. When the last graduate finished their moment of glory, he resumed
his position amongst the graduates in front of the stage.
"When I came in as a private, I said these are the goals I want to
accomplish by the time I get out," Moses said. "When you aspire to do
something personally, you set the bar at a certain level.
"When you start to see progress, you think, 'This is manageable. I can do this.'"
The military has a diverse toolkit of options for service members to
pursue education, both while they are in the service and after
The education centers have counselors dedicated to making sure service members can take full advantage of those options.
That education is not limited to degree programs either; there are
several programs that offer financial assistance to pursue skill-related
certifications as well.
"You don't want to do 20 years and not have an education to show for
it," Moses said. "The military gives you the ability to do that, jump on
Moses said the discipline and structure Soldiers are taught can be
valuable tools in pursuing a degree. They can utilize Army values to
succeed in their personal development and, eventually, civilian
"Soldiers are taught discipline and structure," Moses said. "If you
apply that to your education, it'll take you further than you may
Moses uses the 50-meter target analogy to stress setting goals. He said
the satisfaction each target brings is the driving motivation needed to
Now, with 30 years of service to his country, Moses aligns his sights on a new target.
"I would like to do something in the non-profit area," Moses said.