Virginia Communities: Meet the Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education by Michael Camden, MBA

June 14, 2013 by · Comments Off on Virginia Communities: Meet the Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education by Michael Camden, MBA
Filed under: Bits and Tips, Marketing Communications 

Although the Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education (VAACME) is not new, it has become a viable force within the military voluntary education community. “We’re not splitting atoms,” says Michael Midura, President of VAACME, “But we are being recognized as an organization that cares about the education, training, and professional development of our military.” VAACME is a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization, whose mission is to understand the educational services provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Veteran’s Services; to become aware of the educational support required by transitioning service members and their families; to provide feedback to the Commonwealth of Virginia, of the service- specific educational support and services required by the military members and their families; to understand the educational and employment services provided by the Department of Veterans Affair Veteran’s Education and Training Service; and to share best-practices and lessons learned between education counselors and education providers. In short, VAACME serves, supports, and educates military personnel and their families throughout the Commonwealth. One example of that support can be witnessed by the $70,000 in scholarships granted over the past 7 years.

Founded in 2007, under the guidance and encouragement of Dr. Carol Berry, former Southeast Regional Director of Navy College and current Director of Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education (DANTES), VAACME prepared for the 7th Annual Training Symposium: Renewing, Reeducating, Reinventing and Beyond! The event was held March 26-28 at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel, was a training opportunity on military related educational initiatives and programs, as well as updates on education policies from the Department of Defense (DoD). Tuition Assistance (TA) programs for active duty and Post 9-11 GI Bill processes are regular topics each year. Due to sequestration and recent announcements of discontinued funding of Marine and Army TA programs, this was a hot topic at the symposium. In an ever changing economy and tumultuous job market, the choice of this year’s key note speaker, Mr. Ismael Ortiz, former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Veteran’s Employment and Training Service, Department of Labor, recognized the need for greater support and understanding of a transitioning military to civilian work force.  Also, on the agenda, was the Honorable Terrie L. Suit, Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security for the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as Elizabeth Creamer, Director of Education and Workforce Development, Virginia Secretary of Education Office. The complete agenda and more information about the organization may be found at www.vaacme.org.

Fast becoming a signature event of the annual symposium was the 3rd annual Virginia Wounded Warrior Program (VWWP) charity golf tournament on Tuesday, March 26 at 8am. Wounded Warriors were invited to golf for free as guests at the event. For the first time, there was a $10k hole-in-one contest courtesy of First Command Financial, a golf pro from National University’s Golf Academy out of California, and PGA Golfer, author, and First Colonial graduate Carl Paulson. In addition, the tournament welcomed Mrs. Virginia International, Amber Wandtke, who is active duty Navy, and officials from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services in Richmond and locally from the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program’s 5th District in Norfolk. Immediately following the tournament at Aeropines Golf Club at NAS Oceana, there was a symbolic check presentation to these officials. In the past two years, VAACME has raised approximately $9,000 for the VWWP.

Another first this year is the Military Transition Job Fair and Education Expo, which was hosted in partnership with the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, held on Tuesday, March 26, also was at the Hilton, from 5pm to 9pm. The event was dedicated to provide opportunities for companies to target their recruitment efforts towards enthusiastic candidates with experience and strong work ethics, who now or in the future will be exiting the Armed Forces.  All armed forces personnel, DoD civilians, retirees, and their families were welcomed at no cost to attend. With a long list of companies who participated, there was much buzz surrounding the services provided by Hero 2 Hired (H2H) and DMV to go. The Transition Fair further illustrates VAACME’s and the Chamber’s commitment to the educational and career support of our military women and men.

The largest in the country, VAACME is recognized as the benchmark for other ACMEs. Last October, First Lady Maureen McDonnell presented VAACME with the First Lady’s Seal of Approval for their outstanding accomplishments in providing educational opportunities to the Commonwealth’s service members and their families. Supporting organizations such as the Freedom Support Center at Fort Monroe and the First Lady’s Serving our Service Member Families network and the Governor’s Virginia Values Veterans (V3) initiative and Virginia Military Advisory Committee, VAACME is comprised of Educators, counselors, education officers, and military personnel, both active and retired, from Virginia and beyond. Safeguarding the best interests of the academic goals and career growth of our military community, who protect our freedoms, is what they do. They are passionate educators with a strong desire to give back to those who make significant sacrifices for the citizens of Virginia and the United States.

Michael Camden, Enrollment Coordinator for Troy University’s Hampton Roads Site, may be reached at 757-451-8203 or michael.camden@troy.edu. In addition to his service on the VAACME Symposium Planning Committee and as the VWWP Golf Tournament Director, Michael is a member of the Virginia Beach division board of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.