Southeastern Council on Military Education


January 2016

President's Message

Dear colleagues and SECOME members,

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year! The results are in from our online survey and the SECOME board has been working on developing new initiatives and support programs that we can offer our members as we dive into 2016. Thanks to your comments and suggestions, we will offer more news updates on top issues within the federal and state levels, offer a hiring and education expo during the 2016 symposium, and give opportunity to our members to participate in regional roundtables within North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia to discuss and brainstorm committee support and the direction of the symposium agenda.

Our Strategic Plan, Advancing Academics to Transform the Future, will be released next month, and will implement a new direction for the organization to enhance our services and programs to better meet the needs of our members and to support our mission:

To promote, support and deliver quality educational and professional opportunities and practices within all branches of the Armed Forces by providing innovative and ethical provisions for higher educational institutions, government and state entities.

In particular, you’ll notice in this issue of the SECOME Newsletter, we have locked down a location for the 2016 SECOME Symposium, and we have new Members at Large eager to support the organization. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for our members, our organization would fail. I’d like to encourage, no challenge, our SECOME members to continue to give feedback, participate in upcoming events, and most importantly, spread the word of this great organization!

Warmest Regards,

Ashley Adamovage

SECOME President

2016 Symposium - Savannah, GA


Savannah, GA: The 2016 SECOME Symposium will be held at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto in historic downtown Savannah, Georgia from October 25-27, 2016.

The annual symposium is a unique time to allow members and guests to collaborate and share best practices to support the military-affiliated student. The symposium is geared towards current trends within military education, as well as state and federal policy. Speakers are nationally acclaimed and educate attendees on best practices of meeting DoD and VA standards. Education Services Officers from each Armed Services Branch are also well represented.

This year, we are much more than just a conference! Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a hiring and education expo, networking receptions, unique breakout sessions that will be designed to enhance your skills and knowledge, as well as a 2-day professional development conference. Hurry and register! Space is extremely limited. For more information about the agenda, costs, the event venue, how to register, or sponsorship opportunities, please visit the Annual Symposium page. We hope to see you there!

Introducing our new Members at Large:

Nominations have been submitted and the Board has voted:

North Carolina:

Jennifer Coffey, Appalachian State University, will be assisting the board with Marketing and Communications efforts; Caitlin Short, University of Maryland University College, will be assisting the Special Events Committee; and Wilson Lester, Central Carolina Community College, will assisting the Federal/State Legislature & Partnership Committee.

South Carolina: Gregory Nance, Coastal Carolina University, will be assisting the Federal/State Legislature & Partnership Committee.

If you live in South Carolina or Georgia, and would be interested in a Member at Large position, please submit your application today!

What's in the News - Things you should know

Shifting military jobs to civilians would save billions

By Mitch Shaw

Hilltop Times Correspondent
December 17, 2015

The office that provides budget and economic information to Congress says the military could save a boatload of money if it stopped assigning active-duty personnel to pencil-pushing jobs.

The Congressional Budget Office released a report last week that says the Department of Defense could save $3.1 billion to $5.7 billion a year by turning some 80,000 active-duty military positions into civilian jobs.

The report said the most available numbers indicate there are around 340,000 active-duty military personnel who are assigned to “commercial positions that perform support functions.” The positions include, for example, accounting or health services jobs, and the study postulates that the skills needed for those jobs could be easily and more cheaply found in the private sector.

“To cut costs, DoD could transfer some of those positions to civilian employees and then reduce the number of military personnel accordingly,” the report says.

The report says staffing certain military jobs with civilians would cost about 30 percent less per worker, on average. Those savings would be realized mostly by the absence of training costs active-duty military members carry and lower costs for benefits, retirement and veterans programs.

The report says it would cost an average of $96,000 for civilians to perform the commercial support jobs, while it currently costs $135,200 for active-duty members to do those same jobs. The cost totals include the costs to the DoD, the Veterans Affairs Department, the Treasury, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Education.

Aside from cost saving, the report says civilians typically would offer more stability and experience than military counterparts who often change jobs and work locations.

The report says there are some disadvantages of replacing military with civilians, noting that active-duty members often fulfill support jobs on a rotational basis, allowing for breaks in deployments or time spent overseas. Taking support positions from the military would also affect paths for advancement beyond the military, the report says. 

With nearly 12,000 civilian employees, Hill Air Force Base has one of the largest civilian workforces in the DoD. The base has another 3,600 nonfederal civilian and contractor positions. Its active-duty population is just over 4,000.

Civilians make up more than $960 million of Hill’s $1.2 billion total payroll.

In the mid-2000s, Hill was part of a DoD initiative that transferred about 48,000 commercial positions held by military members to civilian employees.

Right now, the base is counting on non-active-duty positions to fill Air Force-wide gaps in F-35 maintenance positions. The 419th Fighter Wing will increase its maintenance manpower next year in the transition to the F-35. The Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget includes a plan to increase its reserve force by about 2,000 positions, including 925 spots divided among Hill, Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

$16.5 million gift will assist military families with college

By T. Rees Shapiro

The Washington Post
Published: January 7, 2016

Before he developed and marketed the citrus fruit beverage known to the world today as Capri Sun, Hans-Peter Wild was a child in Heidelberg during World War II who would always remember the generosity of the U.S. troops stationed in his father’s factory.

The Americans handed out chocolate and chewing gum, and those simple gestures, along with the Allies’ victory that liberated Germany from Adolf Hitler’s rule, stayed with the boy.

Wild, who became a billionaire, said he believes that Germany owes a tremendous debt to U.S. troops, whose sacrifice brought prosperity and peace.

“The American military saved Germany from the Nazis,” Wild said. “They forget so quickly what the Americans have done for us.”

As an expression of his continuing gratitude, Wild has given $16.5 million to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in Alexandria, Va., that provides educational financial support for the children of Marine and Navy veterans. Wild’s gift, the largest ever for the foundation, will benefit 3,000 scholarship recipients during the coming decade, said the group’s president, Margaret Davis.

“Education is the most important thing you can give a child,” Wild said. “While America has the best education in the world, it also has the most expensive education in the world. To help the children of Marines is a very good thing.”

Since its inception in 1962, the foundation has provided more than 35,000 scholarships. The recipients of Wild’s scholarships are eligible for $1,500 to $10,000 in need-based aid, Davis said.

“We owe it to those who have sacrificed so much for the rest of us,” Davis said. “We have to honor the sacrifice of these Marines by educating their children.”

Wild’s fortunes rose in 1974 when he introduced Capri Sun, the popular citrus-flavor drink now sold in 100 countries. About 7 billion of the drink’s trademark silver pouches are sold annually worldwide, according to a Forbes profile of Wild.

Part of Capri Sun’s early success was owed to Wild’s signing of boxer Muhammad Ali as a pitchman for the beverage. In ads played around the world, Ali likened Capri Sun to himself as “the greatest of all time.”

For Wild, the greatest gift he received was the comfort of safety he felt growing up in the presence of American troops protecting his family, he said. His intention with his donation to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, he said, is to pass along his thanks to the next generation.

Wild’s scholarships will probably benefit about 200 students during the 2015-2016 school year, Davis said.

One is Ben Brooks, a senior in the foreign service school at Georgetown University, whose father served in aviation for the Marines aboard aircraft carriers. Brooks studies Chinese and works with court-involved youths in a mentorship program.

Brooks said that financial assistance from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation has given him the freedom to focus on academics and other volunteer opportunities, inspired “mostly because of values my dad instilled in me.”

Another recipient, Catalina Cotis, is a first-generation college student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A senior, she plans to pursue a career as an athletic trainer for the military, helping those in the service rehabilitate from injuries sustained in training or combat. Her father, a former drill instructor, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years in support of combat operations.

She grew up writing her father weekly letters, looking on a map to see where her dad was deployed. She recalled the anxious wait until her father returned.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Cotis said.

While her father served abroad, Cotis found support from the other military families on various military bases. Now she hopes to graduate and treat those who helped her, “all while serving in the same community that helped raise me.”

During Wild’s last visit to Washington, he laid a wreath at the World War II Memorial on the Mall to pay homage while a Marine Corps veteran played taps.

“People have a short memory of the good things that happened to them,” said Wild, 74. He never forgot.

5 tips for college: When to say 'no' to military credits

By Anthony Dotson

Military Times

Published: November 11, 2015

Editor's note: Retired Army Lt. Col. Anthony Dotson is the University of Kentucky’s Veterans Resource Center coordinator.

Military credit seems like a no-brainer — of course I want credit for my experience!

But upon closer examination, military credit has a potentially dark side and can be related to poor student-veteran retention rates. In fact, there is a direct correlation between lower retention and generous transfer credit policies within higher education.

When transfer credit is accepted by a university, that means the source of the credit is recognized as an accredited college or university. The credit will be applied to your transcript but not necessarily satisfy any of your degree requirements. It’s important to find out how much of your credit is applicable toward your core or degree requirements. This is the credit you want counted — not the other stuff.

There is passionate, well-intended testimony on both sides of this argument. And while I enjoy an impassioned debate as much as the next guy, at the end of the day, data wins.

Research on retention in higher education clearly shows a direct relationship between admission or enrollment standards and retention. In other words, the harder it is to get in to a school, the better your odds of graduating become.

Even the U.S. military uses a standardized test score to determine acceptance and career opportunities, much like most of higher education. A General Technical subscore of 110 is required for anyone seeking commissioning and the four-year degree that accompanies it. Any score below that, and history shows us that the odds of retention and graduation are slim.

We’ve learned this the hard way at the University of Kentucky. When I came onboard in 2009, I clearly recognized the military-credit policy as being disadvantageous to our non-Air Force veterans and convinced the university to take all military credit as part of the admissions process.

I almost immediately saw a negative impact on retention. These students were not ready for the academic rigor of a large public research university. I went back with hat in hand and admitted my mistake. The university’s current policy is a result of that, and I believe it to be the best policy for student veteran success at a large public university like ours. We still accept military (Joint Services Transcript) credit, but not as part of the admissions decision process. You must be admitted on your own academic record, and we then apply only the military credit that counts toward your degree.

This policy does limit how many student veterans we enroll, but it greatly increases their odds of graduating.

So whether you should use military credit fundamentally depends on:

  • What you did in the military.
  • The type of higher education institution you’re applying to.
  • The type of degree you’re seeking.

I would recommend saying “no” to military credit in the following cases:

1. When it’s all or nothing.

If a school accepts your military credit but insists that all of the credit be applied to your transcript, this could set you up for problems down the road with financial aid and progress toward your degree. In other words, you will have a ton of credit but be no closer to your degree. Do the math!

2. When you have chosen a tougher school academically.

Military credit is not a good indicator of academic preparedness, so don’t bank on it to get you accepted.

3. When taking the class is clearly the better academic option.

In many majors, curriculum is either cumulative or nested. In engineering, for example, many of my student veterans prefer to take a course than to get credit for it because it will result in a GPA boost and/or set them up for success in the follow-on courses.

4. When you really need to start from the beginning.

For example, when your military experience has little or nothing to do with your chosen degree path.

5. When it sounds too good to be true.

It likely is. Remember: Easy isn’t always better.

DoD plans to send more officers to civilian grad schools

By Andrew Tilghman

Military Times

Published: August 25, 2015

The Pentagon wants to send more officers to earn graduate degrees at top-notch civilian universities, a key piece of soon-to-be released personnel reforms that could fundamentally alter the career tracks of senior military leaders.

Defense officials familiar with the plan said the aim is to both improve and diversify the officer corps' education and also provide future military leaders with more experience studying or working in the civilian sector and developing nontraditional skills.

The shift toward civilian schools is driven in part by concerns that the military's own educational institutions like those under the National Defense University in Washington and the service-run war colleges no longer are capable of delivering the comprehensive training that tomorrow's force will need to succeed.

"We're moving to a time when a battalion or brigade commander assigned to Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa might have a master's degree in public policy," said one defense official familiar with the plan.

"There is a recognition that the world is changing. The security environment is changing. And breadth of knowledge is becoming increasingly as important as depth of knowledge," the official said.

The education proposals will be a key component of Defense Secretary Ash Carter's effort to overhaul the military personnel system. The Pentagon is wrapping up its "Force of the Future" review and plans to publicly unveil a slate of recommended changes in September.

The proposals will influence decisions about next year's Pentagon budget and may seek Capitol Hill's approval to change some federal laws governing military personnel management. Dozens of proposals are in a final draft phase, and acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson plans to deliver them to Carter by the end of August.

A buzzword found across the slate of proposals is "permeability," the notion that troops should be able to more easily move in and out of the active-duty force and forge a career path that mixes operational assignments with time spent in the civilian sector in graduate school, on family leave, or on assignments working with private industry or corporate fellowships.

Beyond funding more graduate programs, the Pentagon's proposal aims to also break down some of the cultural and political barriers that make many of today's officers reluctant to temporarily leave the active-duty force. For years, many officers have felt such nontraditional assignments were a liability before promotion boards designed to reward those who hew to a more conventional career track.

"One of the biggest pieces of this is the acculturation. You can create more opportunity, but how do you get the real high performers — the future chief of staff of the Army or the future chief of naval operations — how do you get them to do it?" the defense official said.

The emerging slate of reforms will include new benchmarks designed to encourage officers to go to civilian graduate schools and other "broadening assignments" that involve spending time beyond the insular military community.

Specifically, the Pentagon may phase in a requirement for officers seeking to move up into the general and flag ranks. A certain percentage of each annual cohort moving into the O-7, one-star paygrade would have to show a career track with time spent in the civilian world.

"So by 2027, the idea is that 30 percent of your colonels selected for general would have some sort of broadening assignment, something that takes them off the treadmill and puts them into some sort of intellectually or life-experience broadening situation" in the civilian sector, the defense official said.

That could reverse a trend in some services that has significantly reduced officer enrollment in civilian schools. For example, Army data shows that the percentage of brigadier generals holding graduate degrees from civilian universities has dropped steadily from nearly 60 percent in the 1990s to less than 40 percent today.

An Army spokesman said the apparent shift, in part, reflects the fact that the Army and Air War Colleges have expanded their academic programs during that time period to include, for the first time, graduate programs.

Some new evidence suggests that the quality of the officer corps has been declining. A July study out of the Brookings Institution, a well-respected Washington think tank, found that Marine Corps second lieutenants have performed progressively worse on a standardized test administered at officer training school over the last 35 years; the average new officer's score on the General Classification Test dropped from 131 to 122 between 1980 and 2014. A perfect score on the test, which measures intelligence and aptitude, is 160.

Many military experts have criticized the Defense Department's network of professional military education institutions. Especially at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, assignments at some schools were considered cushy posts that gave troops time to focus on family and networking at the expense of academic development.

"The heart of the problem is that too many of our officers lack a rigorous college education," Richard Kohn, a military history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in an interview. "The better graduate programs are more rigorous than the war colleges and the staff colleges."

"Officers should be going to the top universities where they are forced to do research and to think and write critically and precisely and rigorously," Kohn said. "So that as they rise in rank and responsibility, they can recognize quality research and direct that kind of work in their subordinates and present to their civilian leadership the same kind of high-quality rigorous thinking and good writing." For the full story, visit