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NEWS | May 7, 2014

Navy Voluntary Education kicks off month-long celebration of Sailors' successes

By Susan Henson Susan Henson Navy is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Voluntary Education program in May, and Sailors who weren't even born before 1974 have the end of the selective service draft to thank.

Back in the early 1970s, the United States was taking steps to transition its armed forces to an all-voluntary force, which meant a need for incentives to recruit people and keep them past their first enlistment. Survey data showed that education benefits were among the top reasons people joined the military. As a result, Navy Campus For Achievement was established.

In 1999, the Navy Campus name changed to Navy College Program and is currently administered by the Voluntary Education directorate of the Center for Personal and Professional Development.

"Navy VOLED is turning 40 in May, and we're having a Navy-wide celebration throughout the month to commemorate four decades of helping Sailors achieve their personal and professional goals through furthering their education," said Capt. John Newcomer, CPPD's commanding officer.

In addition to these events, CPPD will be posting content May 1-31 to a 40th anniversary page on the Navy College Program website as well as on CPPD's Facebook and Twitter pages to celebrate the anniversary through historical factoids, news and feature stories, photos, and posts on social media using the hashtags #NavyVOLED #My5Words.

Navy leaders remain committed to providing Sailors an opportunity to further their educational goals. Since 1974, the Navy has spent more than $1.5 billion in Tuition Assistance funding for nearly 5 million course enrollments. TA is the Navy's most popular VOLED program, with approximately 15 percent of Sailors (around 45,000) participating at any given time. According to Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran, the TA program will continue to pay 100 percent of Sailors' tuition and enrollment fees for the foreseeable future.

"Voluntary education is important because it gives Sailors the opportunity to experience a learning environment where they're challenged to think more critically, use more skills sets and learn how to apply them to their jobs and professions - it's good for Sailors and it's good for the Navy." Moran said. "We encourage voluntary education, which is why there's strong support for tuition assistance and strong support to continue to encourage Sailors of all ages to get into a class."

NCFA began with a handful of programs and participating schools. Through NCFA, Sailors could enroll in a certificate or degree program with a participating institution - regardless of their duty location - and be guaranteed of certain policies that were advantageous to Sailors and their transient lifestyle. NCFA program advantages included no school residency requirements, acceptance of transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions, and the maximum possible credits for Navy courses and experience, which were among the stipulations participating schools agreed to follow.

While Sailors' transient lifestyle is still the same, today's VOLED program has changed with the times and technology. It offers a variety of ways for Sailors to complete various types of education through programs such as TA, which pays tuition and fees for course enrollments toward completion of a high school diploma or college degree; Navy College Program for Afloat College Education, which is available to Sailors while assigned to certain deployable commands; Graduate Education Voucher, which is an option for officers to earn graduate degrees; or a U.S. Department of Labor journeyman certificate in a trade such as Computer Operator or Electrician through the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program.

Helping Sailors plan their educational journey are the team members working in CPPD's VOLED directorate, 33 Navy College Offices and the Virtual Education Center. The counselors, and education specialists and technicians have a passion for ensuring Sailors get the unbiased guidance and advice they need to make the best choices for them - at the least cost - in pursuit of their education dreams.

"My first job after graduation was with Navy Campus in 1985," said Susan Sutter, the VEC manager. "I loved providing academic advising and encouragement to afloat Sailors and felt a sense of pride when they accomplished their goals. It's 2014, and I still do."

Since 1985, Sailors have reported earning 132,130 college degrees, and 11,324 Sailors have earned their high school/GED diploma. Over the past four years alone, approximately 37,182 enlisted Sailors, warrant officers and limited duty officers reported degree completions.

The VOLED program's success has been measured by every Sailor's participation and each step taken along their educational journey to develop their full potential, according to Newcomer.

"CPPD's voluntary education program is a conduit for equipping Sailors with strong analytical skills, the ability to make informed decisions, and avenues to pursue their life-long educational and credentialing goals," Newcomer said. "For 40 years, the Navy has continued its commitment to providing Voluntary Education opportunities to Sailors to help them grow personally and professionally. VOLED is a win-win for Sailors and the Navy."

Throughout May, CPPD is inviting current and former Sailors to share their successes as a result of using Navy VOLED programs through their personal Facebook and Twitter accounts using the hashtags #NavyVOLED #My5Words. For more information on how to participate visit: or go to the CPPD Facebook page at and Twitter at @CENPERSPROFDEV.

For more information about the Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD), visit: For more information on the Navy College Program, visit: