Academy Program & Curriculum
The Veterans Leadership Academy is the first program of its kind to recruit returning veterans and position them for a broad range of public service. Drawing on best practices, it not only teaches, but immediately challenges veterans to put their learning into action by becoming involved in a range of activities sponsored by the Truman Project and other organizations. Training is preparation for action – no one knows this better than our nation’s veterans.
Veterans are trusted by the public on national security issues, and we offer to broaden their foreign policy and security background. A key element of our Veteran Leadership Academy is empowering individuals in their transition from those implementing policy on the pointy end of the spear to leaders who must decide in which direction to point that spear.
Upon entering the VLA, Academy members will receive introductory trainings on the Truman Project’s core values and a historical overview of security policy. They will be provided with our national security manual, which offers background on a range of foreign policy issues. And they will be given training throughout the year, as relevant, on a host of policy topics from hard security to energy security, international development, and other issues. Throughout the year, they will engage in policy discussions and in policy scenarios at our annual conference, to help them make this transition from those implementing to those leading policy.
A first weekend training focuses on social entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is crucial to today’s world, in which individuals and small groups can make a huge difference in public life. Thus, the first step in empowering veterans to make the transition from carrying out policy to being policy makers and political leaders, is offering them a set of skills to harness entrepreneurship in the public sector. From networking, to creating a business plan, to matching resources to ends, we will be engaging a well-regarded public entrepreneurship training program to help veterans learn these crucial skills.
Members of the military are used to having chains of command and titular authority. The public sphere does not operate in such neatly organized ways. Whether running for office, leading an effort to change legislation, or gathering supporters for favored policy, pulling together the right people in the right places, when one does not have hierarchical or titular authority, is a key skill. Our second weekend training focuses on how to organize to accomplish goals in the public marketplace of ideas. From coalition building, to recruitment, to the basics of fundraising, members will receive training on effective organizing strategies.
Building a network across the policy-political-military realms is essential to being a successful public servant in elected office, appointed positions, or as an outside advocate. At our annual conference, Veteran Leadership Academy members will build community with our policy and political leaders in the Fellows and Partners programs. Together, they will learn from world leaders such as General Petraeus, Janet Napolitano, Leon Panetta, and others who have spoken at our conference in years past. They will engage in policy discussion, meet with other leaders who have run for office and held significant policy positions, and will learn from peers about the way to best fulfill these roles.
Media and Communications
Successfully articulating your viewpoint in a way that reaches policymakers and the American public alike is the key to effective communication. A third weekend training connected to our annual meeting focuses on effective public speaking, media, and other communication skills. Our communications team will work with the veterans to learn the basics of public speaking and speaking in the media to make points effectively, and to engage ones’ audience. We will then provide in-depth public speaking, radio and on-camera training so vets feel comfortable speaking in a variety of media outlets and public settings. Veterans will end their communications training with hands-on learning by doing, by taping video and radio spots making points about issues they care about.
At the end of the Veteran Leadership Academy, participants will be required to pick an activity to complete that uses their training. They may engage in advocacy, take part in a policy debate or forward policy, assist a campaign, engage in media and public speaking, or create a social entrepreneurship project of their own. This final project will help them solidify their training and work together to deepen their ties and prepare for the public sphere.
After their first year, Veterans will remain engaged through a range of formal and informal activities, including:
- Regional events designed to facilitate relationships with Truman Fellows and Truman Partners across the country
- Truman Annual Conference in Washington, DC
- Regular calls, policy trainings, and other events