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Keeping with the Times

After a decade of support in Virginia, the state of play of military education is evolving for the Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education.

By Michael Camden

According to the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, the Commonwealth of Virginia has the fastest growing veteran population in the nation, the greatest number of veterans in the workforce per capita, the largest percentage of women veterans, and the largest percentage of veterans under the age of 28. Astoundingly, 1 in 10 Virginians is a veteran, totaling approximately 800,000. The Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education (VA-ACME) supports the education, training, and professional development of the military community to include those 800,000 veterans, as well as active duty, reserves, guard, and their families.

State ACMEs were created to promote, support, and deliver meaningful education to all branches of the Armed Services. VA-ACME is one of the older, larger, and more successful of all the ACMEs. Some of the organization’s accomplishments include Wounded Warrior Program golf tournaments, military job fairs, and intriguing speakers at the annual symposium (such as Mrs. Dorothy McAuliffe, First Lady of Virginia; Jason Redmond, retired navy Seal and founder of Wounded Wear; and Secretary John Harvey, Virginia Department of Veterans Services).

2016 marked the diamond anniversary of the VA-ACME and it was celebrated in grand fashion at the annual professional development symposium at the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center. The board and planning committee hosted a symposium that was informational, educational, entertaining, and memorable. The feedback was overwhelmingly two thumbs up. So, how does an organization top such a performance?

It started by returning to the Westin in 2017 with the theme: “The State of Play: Military Education in Virginia.” State of Play is a British phrase meaning “present situation,” where members explored the ever-changing present situation of military education in Virginia.

The three-day event kicked off with the 5th annual VA-ACME Military Job Fair & Education Expo on the morning of Tuesday, March 28. Over the years, the growing focus on transitioning personnel made way for the job fair and education expo. Partnering this year with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, previous partners include the Hampton Roads Chamber and Navy Fleet and Family Services.

The 2017 symposium was highlighted by a number of excellent keynote speakers:

· Doug Moran, author of “If You Will Lead: Enduring Wisdom for 21st Century Leaders”

· Captain Rich McDaniel, USN, Naval Station Norfolk, Commanding Officer

· Dr. Christine Mann Darden, who was recently included in the book “Hidden Figures” as one who stood on the shoulders of the NASA Human Computers

· Numerous political representatives, military leaders, and DoD educators

The VA-ACME organization, a not-for-profit, charitable entity, has touched many lives in the Virginia military community in its 11-year history, especially through the scholarship program. The VA-ACME scholarship committee is comprised of a group of dedicated academic professionals, awarding tuition support in a variety of military categories. Of course, awarding $10,000 in scholarships annually to the military community and hosting a truly valuable symposium cannot be accomplished without the support of tremendous sponsors, whom are immensely appreciated.

Great organizations require the time and talent of even greater people. VA-ACME has enjoyed the support of many fantastic contributors over the years. It is rewarding to welcome past leaders back to the symposium. It is even more gratifying when those leaders acknowledge the diligence put forth by the current team each year. Welcome the 2017 board:

· President, Melinda Gainer, Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

· Vice President, Carla Bell-Thompson, Tidewater Community College, Center for Military & Veterans Education

· Treasurer, Ellen Coleman, Thomas Edison State University

· Secretary, Monique Rico-Chavez, Troy University

· At Large, Linda Isaac, Saint Leo University

· At Large, Florence Addison-Hayes, University of Maryland University College

· Historian/Website, Arminda Israel, Old Dominion University – Military Career Transition Program

· 1st Past President, Michael Camden, Troy University.

The annual VA-ACME award winners were announced at the event. They include:

· Sponsorship: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

· VA-ACME President’s Award: Tidewater Community College, Center for Military and Veterans Education

· Military Educator of the Year: Veeta Mitchell, Fort Eustis Army Education Center

· Volunteer of the Year: Monique Rico-Chavez, Troy University

At the symposium, VA-ACME also announced the receipt of the inaugural ACME award from the Council of College and Military Educators (CCME) for outstanding leadership in the field of military education. It is a joy to be recognized for following the mission of support to the education of the military community through awarding scholarships, executing a strong training symposium program, and sharing best practices with colleagues. VA-ACME has built and continues to nurture a strong bond with the military education community in Virginia.

Each year, the symposium typically partners with a military-affiliated charitable organization, and 2017 was no different. Three super-size moving storage boxes were filled with donated business clothing and accessories to support the Boots to Suits program of the Junior League of Richmond.

As VA-ACME continues to connect with the Virginia military community, get connected with VA-ACME! Visit The organization also has a page on Facebook, and you can join the conversation on LinkedIn, as well. Meanwhile, the VA-ACME Board, its members, and its volunteers are dedicated to the mission of VA-ACME and to the military community which we serve, support, and educate! We look forward to continuing to support the professional development, education and training needs of the military community in Virginia for years to come.

Michael Camden, MBA, is the 1st Past President of the Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education (VA-ACME) and Enrollment Coordinator at the Troy University – Hampton Roads Student Support & Testing Center.

Additional Info

  • Issue: 12
  • Volume: 3
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