Department of Defense-run program Troops to Teachers puts veterans back to work in service of their country, but this time, in education.Started in 1993, the Troops to Teachers program helps service members and veterans begin new careers as K-12 school teachers in public, charter, and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. Troops to Teachers provides counseling and referral services for eligible participants to help them meet education and licensing requirements to teach and subsequently helps them secure a teaching position. Since its founding, Troops to Teachers has helped more than 20,000 veterans successfully transition to a career in education.
The program has a few clear goals:
Since 2012, the program has placed more than 800 teachers in Virginia schools alone. In May, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) received a grant of nearly $400,000 to assist military veterans and soon-to-be veterans in becoming teachers. The grant was provided by DANTES, the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, the Department of Defense agency responsible for overseeing the Troops to Teachers program.
- Reduce veteran unemployment
- Improve American education by providing motivated, experienced, and dedicated personnel for the nation's classrooms
- Increase the number of male and minority teachers in today's classroom
- Address teacher shortage issues in K-12 schools that serve low-income families and in the critical subjects -- math, science, special education, foreign language, and career-technical education.
The grant will be used to establish a Troops to Teachers Center in the School of Education at the College of William & Mary. The center will provide guidance and assistance to veterans and to those who are within one year of exiting the military who are interested in pursuing a teaching career in Virginia. Virginia has the fourth highest active-service population in the country, with 117,084 active service members in 2016. According to data from 2015, Virginia is home to more than 700,000 veterans. In a press release about the grant, Governor McAuliffe said:
Virginia boasts one of the largest veteran and military populations and is home to some of the nation's most important military installations... That is why the Troops to Teachers program is so important to the military-connected citizens of the Commonwealth. This program will help address the teacher shortage in Virginia and provide our veterans with opportunities to bring their experiences and skills into the classroom. These are the kind of innovative opportunities that will allow our nation's heroes to succeed in the new Virginia economy."Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs John C. Harvey, Jr., says that veterans are the perfect fit for careers in education. Harvey says, "With their leadership skills, strong work ethic, and dedication to any mission or task, our veterans are a natural fit for teaching ... Many of our veterans experienced firsthand the benefits of great teaching in the military at every stage of their career and saw the profound difference a dedicated teacher can make in a student's life."