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Achieving an educational milestone years after military service

Michelle Loxton/KAZU
James Nannie in his home in Soledad. He is finally going to get his high school diploma after military service interrupted his schooling more than 50 years ago.

For some veterans, the chance to finish high school is interrupted by military service. Now, an initiative by the Monterey County Office of Education aims to give some older veterans something they missed out on -- recognition and a diploma.

In 1966, on the same day James Nannie decided to enlist in the military, he received his draft notice. He was in 10th grade at Seaside High School.

The fact that he never got his high school diploma has always weighed on him.

“Cause I have brothers, I have siblings, and all of them graduated and my kids went to Seaside High also and they graduated from there,” Nannie said. "And I've always thought about it."

Nannie has signed up to be a part of the Veterans Diploma Project, which allows those who served in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War to apply for a high school diploma. Japanese American citizens who were placed in internment camps before they were able to finish high school can also take part.

For Dr. Deneen Guss, Monterey County superintendent of schools, it’s about recreating an important educational milestone.

“It will just give us the great opportunity to try to recreate that graduation ceremony that they missed so many years ago,” said Guss.

James Nannie is spreading the word about the project. He thinks it’ll be a positive thing for many veterans.

“I think it'll help with their self-esteem,” said Nannie.

He also has a spot in mind for his framed diploma.

“It'll be somewhere where everybody can see it,” Nannie said.

Those wanting to take part must apply on the Monterey County Office of Education’s website. The deadline is February 7, 2020 with a graduation ceremony planned for March.

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