Honorable Ashton B. Carter is briefed on IVMF and Syracuse University’s commitment to our service members, veterans and their families
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter’s March 31 visit to Syracuse University included the unique opportunity for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to host a roundtable discussion with the United States Secretary of Defense. Secretary Carter requested the meeting as an opportunity to better understand the work and mission of the IVMF, and to discuss insights gained from the IVMF’s programs and research related to the transition of service members from military to civilian life.
IVMF Executive Director and Vice Chancellor for Veteran and Military Affairs Dr. Mike Haynie welcomed the Secretary, and opened the meeting with a discussion related to the university’s commitment to action and storied history of serving those who have worn the uniform of our nation. He informed Secretary Carter of Chancellor William Tolley’s mission of opening Syracuse University’s doors to veterans in 1946 upon their return home from World War II.
Secretary Carter was pleased to learn that the IVMF is the first national center in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Considerable discussion ensued relating to IVMF’s creation of entrepreneurship, workforce development and job training programs such as the Veteran Career Transition Program (VCTP), the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBV-F), the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), and Boots to Business.
James Schmeling, IVMF’s managing director for programming, shared with Secretary Carter the business and industry coalitions the IVMF has formed with 100,000 Jobs Mission, GE’s Get Skills to Work, Hiring Our Heroes, and businesses such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., First Data, USAA, Walmart, Pepsi, Lockheed Martin, Prudential and others.
Considerable discourse also centered around the life cycle relationship of recruiting, retaining and transitioning our nation’s military, veterans and their families, a mutually beneficial approach to both the Secretary’s mission of “building the future force” and the IVMF’s approach to its research and policy efforts that inform and serve the broader veteran and military family stakeholder community. Nick Armstrong, senior director for research and policy at the IVMF, briefed the Secretary on research efforts ongoing at the IVMF (a Google-funded Supporting Student Veteran Success study of student veterans and university leaders on perceptions, aspirations, barriers and best practices in supporting student veterans), recently completed studies, such as the 2014 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, “A National Veterans Strategy: The Economic, Social, and Security Imperative,” and a forthcoming publication supporting the Institute’s work in communities focused on driving community impact in veteran and military family services.
The manner in which the IVMF implements community of practice models and coordinates comprehensive collective impact strategies to holistically reintegrate veterans and military families into communities across America was discussed at length in the roundtable. James McDonough, managing director of community engagement & innovation, discussed how the IVMF is advancing the alignment of public, private and independent sectors in the delivery of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, Onward to Opportunity (a Department of Defense, IVMF, and Schultz Family Foundation program to connect transitioning service members and active duty spouses to sector-unique employment opportunities, prior to the point of transition), and a series of philanthropically-supported initiatives aimed at organizing communities to deliver comprehensive services, resources and care to transitioning service members, veterans and their families (e.g., NYCServes).
Secretary of Defense Carter commented that “what the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and Syracuse University are doing is extraordinary and inspiring.” He added his thanks to the staff and to Chancellor Syverud for “how you think and what you do.”
Those present at the roundtable included:
- Honorable Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense
- MG Ronald Lewis, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense
- Ms. Rene Bardorf, Deputy Assistant Secretary
- Ms. Stephanie Miller, Special Assistant
- Ms. Julie Park, Confidential Assistant
- Anthony Kurta, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy
- Kent Syverud, Chancellor, Syracuse University
- Mike Haynie, Vice Chancellor, Veteran & Military Affairs/Executive Director IVMF
- Robert Murrett, Deputy Director, Institute for Counterterrorism & National Security
- Jim Steinberg, Dean, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
- Sean O’Keefe, Professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
- Maureen Casey, Managing Director, JPMC, Office of Military & Veterans Affairs
- Ron Novack, Executive Director, Veteran & Military Affairs
- James Schmeling, Managing Director, IVMF Programing
- Jim McDonough, Jr. Managing Director, IVMF Community Engagement & Innovation
- Nick Armstrong, Senior Director, IVMF Research & Policy
- Christine Tarnowski, Senior Director, IVMF Operations
- Wayne Westervelt, Director, IVMF Communications
Following the roundtable discussion at the IVMF offices, the Secretary spoke with students, faculty, staff, administrators, university leadership and special guests, including U.S. Congressman John Katko and Lieutenant Governor of New York Kathy Hochul, in the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom, located in Dineen Hall [view DOD News video].
His brief comments focused on the Defense Department’s commitment to building the “force of the future,” Carter’s initiative to maintain the superiority of the Department of Defense throughout the 21st century by first and foremost, recruiting and retaining the best military personnel. The Secretary commented that to do this, we must focus on investing in those who have shouldered the burden of the security of our country by equipping them with the knowledge and opportunities to succeed in their career – whether within the ranks of the military or within the civilian job sector, post-separation.
Upon being asked why the DoD wants to partner with Syracuse University by an SU sophomore, the Secretary succinctly responded that it is, “the competence of this place; you are way out in front,” citing SU’s and IVMF’s “path breaking” knowledge, history and research in the field. “This institution is a pioneer in thinking and doing … and now [you’re doing] what we really need,” the Secretary added, “which is to couple thoughtful intellectual work to understand the opportunities … tremendous opportunities represented by this amazing group of people we call our veterans.”
Secretary Carter’s visit to campus was the first by a sitting Secretary of Defense in the history of Syracuse University. Read more