A new program at Syracuse University will give veterans and their families the skills and resources they need to pursue a career in politics.
The Veterans Program for Politics and Civic Engagement is a collaboration between the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and SU’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. The program is designed to teach veterans and their families about key aspects of politics, whether students hope to run for office, support a political campaign or work in advocacy, said Steven Lux, director of the executive education program at Maxwell.
Lux said the program this fall will teach students about the components of running a successful political campaign, including planning and fundraising, developing a political platform, communicating with the public and leveraging resources available to veterans.
About 20 students will participate in the program’s initial launch this October, said Nick Armstrong, the senior director for research and evaluation at the IVMF. Students will take an online course in October that will offer both self-guided lessons and live video conferences with instructors, he said.
The second phase of the program will invite the students to campus in November for a week-long immersive experience. Throughout the week, students will attend lectures given by both politicians and SU professors to learn about political participation and begin to build a network of resources that can help them in their future careers, Lux said.
“We know that veterans are often looking, after they’ve served, for ways to continue to serve,” Armstrong said. “This was a great opportunity to partner with the Maxwell School in piecing together a program that would provide some additional tools to veterans looking to run for public office.”
Lux said students will continue to receive support and access to political resources after they graduate from the program. The Maxwell professors teaching the course will be available to graduates who have questions about specific political policies, and the IVMF will help connect them to SU alumni currently involved in politics, he said.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., a co-founder of IVMF, is providing the initial funding for the program. The company’s financial support has allowed SU to offer the program to students for free, which Armstrong said ties into SU’s commitment to covering the costs of its educational programs for veterans.
“As a general philosophy at the university, we want to reduce financial barriers to veterans who are particularly motivated and have high potential to do more for our country,” he said.
A record number of veterans were elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections, though veterans currently make up less than one-fifth of the overall congressional body, according to Reuters. Armstrong said he hopes that SU’s program will encourage more veterans to participate in politics at all levels of government and to share their unique perspective on foreign affairs.
Bill Smullen, the CEO of advancement and strategy at Clear Path for Veterans and the former director of national security studies at Maxwell, views the initiative as an important step in supporting veterans’ political aspirations.
Having a program dedicated to this cause will be beneficial for veterans in both the city of Syracuse and the country as a whole, he said.
“It’s a very helpful, healthy thing for veterans to be involved in politics,” Smullen said. “Anything we can do locally to encourage their involvement is going to be helpful to the Syracuse community.”
Published on September 11, 2019 at 10:08 pm
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