Colonel Neal also credits his father for the educational push. “After high school, I wanted to enlist, but my dad, a retired Master Sergeant, felt strongly about getting an education first,” he says. “I was also raised with the philosophy that every generation should do better than the previous; our accomplishments would honor our parents’ sacrifice and hard work.”
Twenty-five years later, a country boy from the town of Ludowici, Ga. holds six college degrees and is the Executive Officer for General Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau and member of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
For Colonel Neal, like so many others, education has been a reliable driver of success. After GMC graduation in 1989, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the National Guard and earned his bachelor’s at Georgia Southern. Armed with his diplomas, he became a successful high school teacher and coach in Charleston, S.C. While teaching, he pursued his first master’s degree at The Citadel, becoming a high school vice principal at the age of 27.
As world events began to change in the 2000s, Colonel Neal decided to join the military full-time and plans to return to education at retirement. Today, in addition to the demands of his current position, he recently became an adjunct GMC professor, bringing his educational foundation full circle. Colonel Neal reflects, “GMC made me a contributor to society with a desire to give back. When you support GMC, you’re really investing in the future. I’m a shining example of that. If not for GMC, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.”