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NEWS | Sept. 13, 2023

Washington Guard Member Shares her Educational Journey

By Joseph Siemandel, Washington National Guard

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – As a child growing up in rural Oregon, education wasn’t a priority for Sgt. 1st Class Sarah Braun. Years later, her success at the Washington National Guard often relies on sharing her educational journey.

“I was working around eight years old, just doing something to stay busy. By age 13, I was making $15 an hour working for our neighbors, and by 16, I was a volunteer firefighter working full-time and no longer living with my family,” said Braun. “When I came to the National Guard, it was a big transition and there wasn’t a lot of flexibility.”

Braun, a senior career counselor with the Washington Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, was introduced to an Army National Guard recruiter by a friend.

“He seemed genuine, seemed like he wanted to help me. And I really just wanted to go somewhere and be something,” said Braun.

After studying for and passing the General Educational Development (GED) test, Braun joined the California National Guard as an engineer.

“The GED plus was honestly harder for me than basic training,” said Braun.

Braun transferred to Washington and found her way into recruiting in 2016. In 2020, she was named Washington Army National Guard Recruiter of the Year. That was also when Braun started thinking about the importance of education and what legacy she wanted to pass along to her kids.

“I was at a school at Camp Robinson, Arkansas and a representative from a college was there and said, hey, you get college credits for this training,’ and I remember thinking, I know that. I have been hearing that for years. But this time, I actually looked into it,” said Braun.

Braun reviewed her joint service transcript and found out she had a lot of college credits.

“I called a couple of colleges, and they told me I could get a bachelor’s degree in three years because I have a lot of electives that would transfer over,” said Braun.

For years, Braun had told herself that it wasn’t the right time or college wasn’t for her. For some reason, this time, she decided it was a realistic possibility to get her degree. In June 2023, she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in leadership from Trident University International.

In the fall, Braun plans to start a master’s in business administration (MBA) program with Trident.

“As long as you commit to growing your knowledge, the world is your oyster,” said Braun.

She gives a lot of credit to her service in the National Guard as a catalyst for seeking her degree.

“The National Guard brought medical and financial stability to my family and now has provided a bachelor’s degree, free of cost. Graduating from college has helped me in my career goals and inspired family and friends,” said Braun. “Not only has the military improved my life in more ways than I can count, but I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to share my knowledge again as a Washington Army National Guard Recruiter.”

After a couple of years off the recruiting beat, Braun is back out talking with potential recruits about the benefits of the National Guard. However, this time, she has more knowledge and experience about the education benefits.

“I tell everyone to take full advantage of what the Guard has to offer and don’t leave any of it on the table,” said Braun. “A lot of people come into the Guard from all walks of life. They are students already in school, want to go to school, have a full-time job, or have similar backgrounds to mine. I believe the Guard has limitless potential for everyone.”



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