VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - During July 2020, the Navy College Virtual Education Center (NCVEC) marked its 10-year anniversary of assisting Sailors with virtual education counseling and tuition assistance support all over the world.

The Virtual Education Center (VEC), as it was called in 2010, was established at Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex in Virginia Beach to support the Navy College Offices (NCOs) and to provide a new virtual capability for Sailors. From humble beginnings, it began to take shape into the award-winning organization it is today.

“I recall the first year was one of excitement, angst, and being proud to be selected to be a part of a new initiative,” said Sharen Richardson, inaugural VEC director and current OCONUS Navy College Office division head. “The team was conscious of all eyes being on our little corner of the world which included 27 staff members.”

In 2010, business processes and technology looked different from today.

“The phones were steadily ringing, and we were receiving faxes before, during, and after working hours from Sailors and staff around the world,” said Richardson. “Unlike the advanced methods of today, the primary modes of communicating back then were fax, email, and phone calls. In the second and third years of the VEC, we introduced video counseling; however, Sailors did not embrace the technology in the earlier years as they do today.”

The staff of the newly established VEC knew they were under pressure to get it right.

“We were well aware that everyone was watching to see how the VEC executed the mission,” said Susan Sutter, current Navy College Program for Afloat College Education program manager and former VEC day-shift manager. “Failure was not an option.”

Most of the staff that filled the new VEC was made up of experienced education counselors and technicians from five local NCOs.

“We were fortunate to have these seasoned staff members, as they were able to train the new staff who were hired to complete the team,” said Sutter. Richardson and Sutter both agreed the beginning years were filled with frequent streamlining and adjusting business processes to improve productivity.

The hard work and the successes in the early years are evident in today’s NCVEC, now located at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.

“The plankowners would tell you that the NCVEC has changed a great deal in the last 10 years,” said Christopher Cruz, director of Virtual Capabilities. “We are proud to say that today’s NCVEC continues to leverage modern technology to provide the best possible education services to the fleet.”

Today, Sailors have many choices when it comes to contacting an education counselor. To support both the OCONUS NCOs and Sailors around the world, the NCVEC has replicated many of the best practices from the private sector to best support the Sailor.

“Sailors can call on the phone, text, live chat, submit electronic help tickets, use the mobile app, conduct video counseling, as well as other self-service options like using the Navy College Program website and Chatbot,” said Cruz.

During the current global pandemic, the NCOs and NCVEC adapted to continue to meet the communication needs of the Sailors and took another major step in its transformation while serving Sailors in a maximum telework environment.

“By rolling out new communication options such as the Issue Tracker, same-day and real-time counseling sessions, and the Contact Navy College Form, the Navy College Program has maintained its high level of customer service despite the phone lines being shut down,” said Cruz. “In the last month, over 70 percent of all live chats have come in as texts.”

Due to the NCVEC’s successful foundation in 2010 and its ever-evolving business practices to meet the needs of the Sailors, the Navy College Program can continue to transform into the future.

“We’re excited about what lies ahead,” said Cruz. “By 2025, 75 percent of all Sailors will be centennials. Knowing the characteristics of this audience is important as the Navy College Program seeks to transform to the needs of today and tomorrow’s Sailor.”

To coincide with the 10-year anniversary and better understand the educational needs of the Sailor, the NCVEC is conducting a customer service survey. Sailors interested in completing the survey can visit: https://www.research.net/r/VOLED_CSAT_SURVEY_JUL20_PUSH

For additional information on the Navy College Program, visit www.navycollege.navy.mil to start the education process and complete required training.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navy College Program, with the NCVEC, the OCONUS NCOs, and the Navy College CONUS Region Advisor staff, is continuing to provide customer service support to the fleet. For a list of contact options, including scheduling appointments for counseling or requesting a counselor call back, visit the Navy College Program website at https://www.navycollege.navy.mil/contact.htm. For OCONUS Navy College Office (NCO) information, visit https://www.navycollege.navy.mil/resources/find-open-navy-college-offices.htm.

As part of the MyNavy HR Force Development team, Naval Education and Training Professional Development Center (NETPDC) provides products and services that enable and enhance education, training, career development, and personnel advancement throughout the Navy. Primary elements of the command include the Voluntary Education Department, the Navy Advancement Center and the Resources Management Department.

Connecticut Media Group