DoD Education Symposium

Focus on Outcomes Will Replace Label of Being “Military Friendly”

I just returned from the DoD Education Symposium, which is held once every three years. According to DoD and government officials at the show, 1.4 million vets will be leaving the U.S. military during the next few of years. During this time of readjustment for thousands of military families and budget cutbacks to those agencies who serve veterans, the following takeaways were gathered from the event:

Eduployment. While this was an education event, there was a prevailing wind of application. This was expressed by the Under Secretary of Education, Martha Kanter, in multiple ways as, “Education that provides career readiness and employability.”; and,”Education that leads to well-paying jobs and a better quality of life.” The importance of applying education was also clear during many break-out sessions I attended.

Voluntary Transparency. Due to unethical education practices and outright poaching upon military students, there will be many safeguards put into place for veterans by the U.S. government. These protective measures will result in increased pressure and government regulation on for-profit education providers. This environment of gov’t. regulation will usher in more opportunities for military students to benefit from transparent data and allow vets to reward voluntary compliance by legitimate education providers. Improved self reporting will result in a higher level of quality education and competitive rates on tuition and fees.

Capable Veterans. To me, the most encouraging session I attended totally captured the future potential of military veterans during this time. The presenter clearly had a purpose in life, which he openly expressed as, “We take care of our own.”  The session was about empowering our veterans. The presenter knew veterans could be successful because of what he had done previously and who he knew would help make the biggest difference. When the military community comes together and mobilizes itself it is a force with many capabilities. It is our best hope to help veterans navigate education and employment properly, make smart decisions and be self-sufficient after serving in the military. Not once did the presenter mention subsidies, protections or sympathies. His “can do” attitude inspired me and was contagious to all who attended. But his speech was neither about talk  nor inspiration. This session was about taking action and getting things done. I commend him for his service and absolutely agree with his approach and solutions.

Outcomes as a Standard of Success. I will conclude by making an honest appeal to military leaders, ESOs, TAPs, educators and government officials. The new standard in military education and employment should be to focus on outcomes. Results have nothing whatsoever to do with being “military friendly”. Outcomes are all that really matter. Student outcomes drive quality, relevance and value in education. Employment outcomes result in good jobs, better careers and a strong national economy.

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