How Veterans Leaving the Military Can Launch a Political Career

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who represents Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, spoke at the Sisters in Arms monthly meeting held at the Aliamanu Military Reservation Chapel. (U.S. Army /Staff Sgt. Kyle J. Richardson)

For any veteran who's had enough with what politicians are (or aren't) doing and decided you can do it better, Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families, or IVMF, is the place to get started -- even if you're not sure what office is right for you.

The IVMF's Veterans Program for Politics and Civic Engagement should be the first stop for any veteran candidate.

No matter where you are in the process of building a political life, veterans and their family members are eligible for the multi-part training program.

Whether you're figuring out what office you want to target, organizing support for issues most important to you, or working up a challenge to political giants like Ted Cruz or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the program will guide you through every step of the process.

The program starts with ideation: Is this the ideal future for the veteran or family member? What are the issues most important to them?

Phase I guides participants through what it means to be a candidate and identify their political interests.

Phase II is the heart of the program. It's a three-week online course of study, plus one week of on-campus training at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. For anyone who doesn't know how to manage a campaign, talk to the media or even get on the ballot, this is the program that will show you the nuts and bolts of running for office.

By the end of Phase II, each potential candidate will walk out with a campaign plan programmed for the goals set out in Phase I. Since these veterans will be ready to start kissing babies after Phase II, the next phase focuses on candidates who will be running or are currently running for elected office.

The third phase not only instructs candidates on communicating with voters -- and blocs of voters, it will also help teach them how to actively manage their campaign committees. To be in Phase III, candidates must have an active campaign with their local election committee or Federal Election Commission, along with a campaign manager and campaign plan.

Depending on who is running, the class can be broken out into programs on federal, state and municipal elections. This is the only phase of the program with an associated cost, and the price is dependent on the number of students in the class.

There is a fourth and final phase only for those who actually get elected. Elected veterans can get in-person leadership training on areas such as transitioning into office, public-sector management and relationship building, all at no cost to the newly elected official.

Phases I, II and IV are free of charge, but candidates will have to pay their own travel costs to and from the campus in upstate New York for Phase II. Phase III, which offers training to those with active political campaigns, is not free.

For more information or to apply for the Veterans Program for Politics and Civic Engagement visit the IVMF's Training Program for Veterans and Military-Connected Individuals website.

According to the IVMF, applications for fall 2021 openings will start in late March-early April 2021 and will close at the end of June.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

Want to Know More About Veteran Jobs?

Be sure to get the latest news about post-military careers, as well as critical info about veteran jobs and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Show Full Article
Veteran Jobs