SOLDIERS are often remembered for what they did for their country, but now a different kind of military history has been made.
Yesterday was the day that the first group of enlisted personnel in the Defence Forces proudly accepted degrees and other qualifications recognising their learning throughout their military careers.
Among them was Sgt Michael Dinnegan (50), of Ballinagore, Co Westmeath, who didn't get beyond primary school, but now has a BA in Leadership, Management and Defence Studies (LMDS).
Another new degree holder, Dubliner Sgt Joan McCabe (36), said that she is relieved to know that if she decides to leave when her contract is up in four years, she "won't have to explain what I've been doing for 21 years".
They were among 189 Defence Forces enlisted personnel – those who are not commissioned officers – awarded one of a number of new qualifications yesterday at IT Carlow.
Last year, the Higher Education Training and Awards Council (HETAC) approved the validation of Defence Forces enlisted personnel career courses for awards on the National Framework of Qualifications.
HETAC is the same body that approves degrees and other awards for third-level colleges.
The aim is to validate the learning and training enlisted personnel complete throughout their careers.