Skyler and Garett Engel

Memorial Day Tribute-
Brothers advance themselves with military service, higher education

A goal of bettering themselves led two brothers to military service and then to Trine University.

Garett Engel of Fort Wayne and Skyler Engel of Pioneer, Ohio, are studying criminal justice in Trine's School of Professional Studies at the Fort Wayne Regional Education Center, Dupont. Both credit the discipline honed in military service for making them better students.

Garett, the older of the two, started classes in January 2011 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from June 2006 to October 2010. He achieved the rank of corporal and remains with the Marine Corps on inactive ready reserve status.

Skyler began attending in fall 2011 after serving in the U.S. Army from June 2007 to March 2011 and was a specialist E-4 when discharged.

"Trine in general has always had a really good name; I always heard great things about the school," Garett said. "There really wasn't another school near home that could top Trine."

"I had called to get ready to enroll at the main campus and I let them know I was living in Fort Wayne and one thing lead to another and they asked if I was aware of the campus in Fort Wayne," he said. Upon learning about the regional campus, Garett enrolled there for convenience.

"I do like the challenge, I don't want something that's easy," Garett said of Trine, which has a reputation for rigorous academics. "I wanted a challenge, something that would make me work really hard. I don't want to walk away from it thinking they just gave a diploma to me."

He was quick to tell Skyler about his experience at Trine and encouraged him to apply to Trine, too. "He had just gotten out of the service and wasn't thinking about college," Garett said of Skyler. "I told him it was silly to let the paid education go," Garett said referring to the Post-9/11 GI Bill that he and Skyler use to pay for their education. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of service after Sept. 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days.

"You start from the basics and build from there," Skyler said of classes in his program. "College is pretty similar to the military. You're at the right place at the right time and do your best, you do what's expected of you.

"I wouldn't have been as motivated to go to college if I wasn't in the service," Skyler said. "The values I learned in the military have helped me succeed in school."

Garett echoes that sentiment. "It was an easier transition to college because with military service I'm more disciplined.

"Garret and Skyler exemplify the characteristics of typical adult-learners as they are well-prepared and hard-working students," said Mersiha Alic, dean of the School of Professional Studies. "We are honored to have veterans who are such high-caliber students in our program."

"I take the schooling that I do now more serious than I ever had been before for school," Garett said. "Education wasn't really on my mind, not until my last year of high school did I really have focus. I was sworn in and knew if I didn't get good grades, I wouldn't get in the Marines."

Skyler was also focused on the military while in high school, completing basic training between his junior and senior years.

Skyler and Garret graduated from North Central High School in Pioneer.

That ability to meet goals seems to serve them well as they tackle school, work and family.

Skyler works as a security guard and Garret fills and delivers oxygen tanks to patients.

When the veterans are not in class, studying or working, they enjoy spending time with family and friends. Skyler especially enjoys outdoor activities and Garett likes to practice his marksmanship skills.

Both men served in infantry units so studying criminal justice is an extension of their service, which included duty in Iraq for each. Their tours overlapped, but the brothers didn't see each other there. Skyler put in seven months in Iraq, performing daily patrols. Garett 's responsibilities in Iraq involved training Iraqi police to take over duties from coalition forces.

m January to August 2010, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. " We never actually got the call to go into Afghanistan, so instead we sailed by ship to many countries doing joint training with various countries' militaries and getting some rest and relaxation along the way," Garett said. "We did, however, have to respond to the earthquake that happened in Haiti in January. This was the first place we went to, to lend humanitarian aid.

"During the deployment, we floated around Africa for a month or so to help with making the waterways a bit safer for passage. This was a direct result of the Somali pirates hijacking ships," he said. "Our presence there was supposed to deter further attacks."

While their paths have been similar, they might diverge after graduation as Garett eyes a career at the federal or state level and Skyler leans toward a position in counseling youth.

"I'm shooting higher on the criminal justice scale," Garett said. "The CIA, FBI or Secret Service is really what I'm trying to go after. I have pretty high expectations, but it would be great to have the opportunity," he said.

Garett expects to graduate in February 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in criminal justice. Skyler's on track to earn his bachelor's degree in fall 2014 and he's considering a second bachelor's degree in psychology.

"If I decide to get the bachelor's in psychology after criminal justice, I would like to work as a high school counselor, or something to help young kids or young adults," Skyler said.

With their classroom accomplishments and discipline, it appears they'll each reach their goals with military precision.

Reflections on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is Monday and brothers Garett and Skyler Engel said military service has given them a deeper respect for the national holiday.

"Before I had an understanding it was for veterans," Skyler said. "Now it is more meaningful after having served overseas.  Memorial Day to me is a day for remembering and honoring those who died in the service of their country."

"I have a deeper feeling of respect," Garett agreed. "It was always a day of paying respect for those who had served before me, a sense of that American pride. It was somewhat emotional and even more so now that I have served. I know firsthand the sacrifices and some of my good friends have paid the ultimate sacrifice."

The Engel brothers weren't certain of their plans, but they know they won't be in class that day.

Cutline: Skyler Engel, left, and Garett Engel, two military veterans raised in Pioneer, Ohio, pose for a portrait. Both of the brothers view military service and higher education as ways of bettering themselves for the future. They are enrolled in Trine's School of Professional Studies at the Fort Wayne Regional Campus, Dupont, where they are studying criminal justice.  Photo by Dean Orewiler, Trine University photographer.