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 the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University 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.

What You Will Experience

  • Hybrid in-person and online instruction and dynamic interaction
  • A unique experience to strengthen your relationship with your cohort, alumni, instructors, and friends of the program
  • An immersion training
  • Ongoing access to continuous 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 Participant, Client Solutions Group, Security Governance and Oversight, Dell Technologies, and U.S. Air Force Veteran.

Program Structure

The program offers two sections: the practice section and the ideation section. You will be assigned to the section which we believe better serves your goals and interests as stated in your application. Participants who succeed in the ideation section will be offered an opportunity to join a practice section within a year or two.

The Ideation Section

The ideation section is designed for veterans and individuals with military connections who have demonstrated a strong interest in politics but are in the early stage of exploring a political career.  This section provides 12 hours of asynchronous and synchronous instruction and interaction in September.  It is aimed to help participants develop a better understanding of their motivations and commitment to public office as well as what offices might interest and fit them.  Program dates will be finalized in May.  Participants who complete the ideation section successfully and are interested in continuing to pursue a political career might be assigned to the practice section either in the same year or the next year.

Campaign Planning

Pre-Immersion weekly online sessions

We will hold online weekly sessions from 6:30p.m. to 8pm EDT on October 6, October 13, October 20, and October 27 (all Thursdays).

On-campus sessions

We will hold program sessions both in-person, on the beautiful campus of Syracuse University, and online from 4pm, Wednesday, November 2 to 5pm, Friday, Nov. 5 EDT. Participants are encouraged to attend the program in person. Housing and meals will be provided by the program. Participants should also feel free to choose to attend the program online.

Online immersion training

We will hold 5 half-day online sessions from 2pm to 5pm EST on Thursday, November 10, Friday, November 11, Monday, November 14, Tuesday,  November 15, and Wednesday, November 16.

Participant campaign plan presentations and program summary

Participant campaign plan presentations and program summary will take place online from 4pm to 6pm EST on Wednesday, December 14, and Thursday, December 15.


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 Member 4; or, VA Statement of Service showing character of service. For Active Duty: a Statement of Service or Record Brief)

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.

Program Information Session

Together, we engage participants in subjects such as the mechanics and management of campaigning, fundraising strategies, building campaign platform (policies and institutional reform), messaging, public communications, identifying mentors and leveraging resources available to veterans, among others.

Critical in all of this is providing participants the opportunity for self-assessment and reflection. What knowledge, experience and personal character do you bring to your candidacy? What are your areas for growth? What political offices are a good fit for you?

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