Austin vets get diplomas years after leaving school for military

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been a long time coming for several Austin veterans. On Tuesday, Austin Independent School District awarded diplomas to veterans who went into the military before finishing school. The state started its diploma program in 2005 for veteranss who were supposed to graduate between 1940 and 1975.

“Twenty-eight years, one month and eight days,” Eugenio Gaona said of the time he spent in the U.S. Army. “To me, it was educational. I learned a lot; I learned.”

Gaona has had a long journey. He served in Vietnam and traveled around the world. But along the path he was missing one thing: his diploma.

“As Americans, we have to do our part,” said Benito Serrano, who joined the Navy at 17 years old and also served in Vietnam. “I felt like I did mine, and I’m proud of it.”

These two veterans have different yet very similar stories, both sacrificing their education for their country. But now they’re both getting what they’ve wanted for years.

“It’s a long wait, but it’s a great honor,” Serrano said after receiving his diploma. “I mean, after all these years, I never thought that this would happen.”

“I think I’ll be able to put up my diploma and let it be visible that I finally made it,” Garcia added.

It was a priceless moment and one that was well-deserved for those who put their lives on hold for our freedom.

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