Veterans Program for Politics and Civic Engagement

Training program for veterans and military-connected considering careers in politics

Training Program for Veterans and Military-Connected Individuals

The program is offered with the initial support of JPMorgan Chase & Co. through a collaborative effort by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Our program is tailored to meet the specific needs of veterans and military-connected individuals who have an interest in pursuing careers in politics. Instructors will include esteemed faculty from the Maxwell School — the nation’s #1-ranked graduate school in public affairs, veterans with first-hand experience running for office, and experts in the field.

The program engages participants in different stages of their political journey in campaign topics such as fundraising, public communications, social media, identifying mentors, building your platform, and leveraging resources available to veterans, among others.

Critical in all of this is providing participants the opportunity for self-assessment and reflection. What from your military experience can you bring to your candidacy and public office? What are your areas for growth? What political office should you run for?

What You Will Experience

  • Instruction and dynamic interaction through an online learning management system throughout the year
  • An on-campus experience to strengthen your relationship with your cohort, alumni, instructors and friends of the program
  • A one-week immersion training
  • Ongoing access to continuing learning opportunities for all VPPCE alums

The ultimate deliverable for this program is a refined campaign plan for each program participant.

VPPCE Alumnu Molly Mae Potter

“This program is a world-class, front seat, crash course for veterans interested in public engagement and public office.  It was a non-stop, engaging Ted-Talk level content education from the best of the best in this area narrated by NPR-level commentating (Grant Reeher as the lead) whose purpose was to set up veterans for success to help drive this country forward and “be in the arena” when policy is on the table. It was totally bi-partisan and participants were really engaging and supportive of each other. I would highly recommend this course to any veteran looking to become more active and engaged in policy.”

Molly Mae Potter, 2020 VPPCE alum, Client Product Group Business Operations and Control Center Leader, and U.S. Air Force Veteran.

Program Structure and Dates

Annual Program | October – November 2021

In 2020, we admitted more than 50 persons to the program, divided into two groups. The first group included people we deemed most ready in their mind and in their planning process to run for office in the near team. The second group included people who demonstrated a strong interest in running but still early in their planning process and not always quite sure when they might mount a political campaign. We describe this second group of people as the “Ideation” group. For both groups, the program consists of three phases.

Program Phases

Group of VPPCE attendees together for a group photo.

Phase I

Phase 1  begins the moment applicants are accepted into the program and enroll in the course, at which time access is provided to the online learning management system. Through this system participants will find instructional videos, readings, and reference materials. In this phase, we also hold 3 to 4 online group meetings to clarify learning expectations, acclimate participants to the learning management system, and introduce some of the key components of the program content.

Phase II

Phase 2  includes both the on-campus experience scheduled for late October and the immersion training. For the Ideation group, the immersion will take place in the 3rd or 4th week of September. For the other group, the training will take place Veterans’ Day week, November 8–12, 2021. The only unknown at this time is the on-campus experience, which is subject to state and local health and safety directives related to COVID. We expect to have clear guidance on this point by late August 2021.

VPPCE participants with Mike Haynie and David Van Slyke.

Phase III

Phase 3  starts the moment participants graduate from their program. VPPCE will offer regularly scheduled online seminars and trainings for all alumni that dive deeper into the needs of running a campaign as well as the issues related to holding an elected office. In addition to our learning goals we use these events for alums to develop relationships with one another and expand their networks.


A selective, rigorous and intense educational initiative, our program represents a unique opportunity for those men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom, or their family members, to take an important step toward continuing their commitment to public service through elected office. The program offers intensive training for veteran and military family members with career interests in politics.

All veterans and their family members are eligible to apply. Successful candidates must be able to demonstrate a strong potential for a future career in politics and an interest in running for public office.

VPPCE classroom in session.


A completed application package will include the following:

  1. Completed application form
  2. Resume (uploaded through the online application)
  3. Proof of military service (DD214 or military ID)

Selection will be based on the ‘whole-person’ concept, with a particular focus on an assessment of each candidate’s potential to excel not only in the program, but also upon graduation, in his or her chosen area of leadership in public office. References and interviews may be requested of finalists. We strive to select a cohort for the program that reflects diverse experiences and perspectives.

There are two (2) required uploads in the online application portal necessary for successful completion of this application. While you will be able to to save your resume and application, please make sure that you are prepared to submit all materials shortly after beginning your application. You will only have 30 days to access your in-progress application after the first time you save your application.

The online application deadline for 2021 has passed. Check back in early 2022 for updates for open application period in spring 2022.

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