Pfc. Collin M. Hicks, of Van Meter, Iowa, was part of more than 80 Iowa Army National Guard Soldiers recently recognized during a patching ceremony held at the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center in Johnston, Iowa.


This ceremony represents a time-honored tradition, where Iowa Citizen-Soldiers officially receive the left-shoulder military patch representing their unit of assignment in the Iowa Army National Guard. It also marks completion of the Iowa National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program, a preparatory training program that provides new recruits the education and skills needed to excel during their Army Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training (military school).


These Soldiers represent today’s Iowa Army National Guard, which consists of 7,000 Citizen-Soldiers based in more than 40 communities across the state. Hicks, a crew member with the Van Meter Casey’s General Store, now becomes a Signal Support Systems Specialist with Detachment 1, Headquarters Service Company, 248th Aviation Support Battalion, in Boone, Iowa.


Hicks is a 2016 graduate of Van Meter High School.


Signal support systems specialists are primarily responsible for working with battlefield signal support systems and terminal devices. This equipment needs to consistently work in order for the Army to direct the movement of its troops.


Hicks was named as the Honor Graduate for this 16-week course, which was held at Fort Gordon, Ga. By completing Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, Hicks is now eligible for the Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Grant (NGEAP), a state-funded tuition assistance program for Iowa National Guard members who attend Iowa community colleges and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private. Under this program, Iowa National Guard members will receive tuition payment up to 100 percent of the State Regents’ rate, an amount up to $7,108 per academic year.


Hicks, the son of Daniel Hicks, of Davenport, Iowa, and Kendra Hicks of Van Meter, is also eligible for the Reserve Component GI Bill, which pays a Soldier up to $600 per month while attending college, technical or vocational trade schools. And he’ll also receive monthly drill pay and 15-days of paid duty each year for Annual Training.