Photo Information

Irfan Siddiqui, a 28-year-old Marine veteran, poses for a photo on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus Sept. 5. Siddiqui is a former Staff Sergeant in the Marines who is using his Post 9/11 GI Bill to obtain a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. He is also currently working to gain a commission as a Marine Corps Officer.

Photo by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

Marine veteran uses GI Bill to become an officer in Amherst, Mass.

29 Sep 2014 | Sgt. Richard Blumenstein 1st Marine Corps District

Irfan Siddiqui will be a commissioned Marine Corps officer in 2017, or at least that is his plan.

The former staff sergeant is doing something many Marine veterans do – using his Post 9/11 GI Bill to obtain a degree. Siddiqui said he exited the Marines, after nine years of service, with two goals. First, obtain a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Second, become a commissioned officer in the Marines.

“I am not really done with the Marine Corps,” he said. “I knew I wanted to get out, finish school, and then come back in.”

The Post 9/11 GI Bill covers tuition and fees up to the highest in-state school, provides a monthly housing allowance, an annual book and supplies stipend, and more, according to

“It is great,” he said. “It pays my tuition and takes care of a big chunk of my expenses.”

The 28-year-old Burlington, N.C., native enlisted in the Marines in Sept., 2004 as an administrative clerk.

“A buddy of mine, who was a grade above me, was joining the Marines,” he said. “I was in my senior year of high
school. I had thoughts of joining the military on my mind. I really did not have much information about it. He was joining the Marines, so that is what I decided to do.”

Now, Siddiqui is in his sophomore year of college. He has completed the Marine’s Platoon Leadership Course Junior training session and had met half of the requirements to become a commissioned officer. Once he completes the Marine’s Platoon Leadership Course Senior session and earns his degree, he will be able to accept his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.