Nick Armstrong G’08, G’14 uses data to help veterans reach their goals

Nick armstrong

Data is everywhere. From the number of steps you take in a day to the quality of your sleep, it seems that every aspect of our daily life can be assessed by calculating the numbers.

In Nick Armstrong’s role as Executive Director of Research and Data at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), data plays a bigger role: his team collects data and conducts research to inform the delivering education and training programs that advance our country’s veterans and the military-related community.

Armstrong leads IVMF’s multidisciplinary team of applied social scientists, evaluators and data engineers to analyze the numbers and conduct applied research that enables government, industry and decision-making philanthropic on veterans and family issues.

These questions include how veterans transition from active service to civilian life and their quest not only for a job that pays the bills, but also for a fulfilling and meaningful career that matches their skills.

This model of translating research and data into impactful practices, programs and policies would be a differentiator for IVMF, and this is what drew Armstrong to this role from the start working with J. Michael Haynie, Founder and executive director of the IVMF and vice-chancellor.

“It suited my career and my passions perfectly. As an institution, we measure the delivery of our programs, and that feeds into our research. We combine research with data to deliver programs that help us stay on the cutting edge of technology, ”said Armstrong, who received his MPA and PhD. degrees with concentration in Public Administration and National Security Policy from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Launching careers in STEM, political careers

person in military uniform in desert area with other soldiers

Stationed with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, Nick Armstrong was deployed to Bosnia a week before the September 11 terrorist attacks, then to Afghanistan and Iraq.

When Armstrong first joined the IVMF in 2014, veteran unemployment was a lingering concern. But as the economy recovered, less data was being collected on veterans’ satisfaction with their jobs or career paths.

After asking veterans about their career goals and aspirations, Armstrong and his team quickly realized that a change in philosophy was needed. The resulting change has made it possible to provide more education, training and accreditation opportunities in high growth, long-term career opportunities, especially in fields like STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“Along with our military, they are the largest workforce across America, and they consist of a pool of ready-made workers. We had to design programs where we knew there was a market, a need and a demand for specific careers and jobs. We focused on the barriers they would face and how we can influence or design policies to reduce those barriers and create opportunities. We strive to help them find employment, not just after the military, but for life, ”Armstrong said.

In 2019, in partnership with Maxwell, Syracuse University launched the Veterans Program for Politics and Civic Engagement, with the goal of helping veterans seek elected office, political appointments and roles. related civic engagement.

Armstrong said it was natural for veterans, who volunteer to serve their country, to look to a career in public service as an elected official.

In this last electoral cycle, four former students of the Veterans Political Program won their local elections.

“Many veterans are drawn to public service after their military service, and they want to have a purpose and a mission and be part of something bigger than themselves. So we focused on capturing their motivation to do good and funneling it into opportunities and training programs where they can run for public office, ”Armstrong said.

From serving his country to serving his veterans

For seven years Armstrong was a serving officer in the United States Army. Stationed with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, Armstrong was deployed to Bosnia a week before the September 11 terrorist attacks, then to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Among other leadership roles, Armstrong served as Assistant to the General, and later speechwriter to the Commanding General, and then to Major General Lloyd Austin, who is now Secretary of Defense. But as he contemplated his own transition from active service to civilian life, Armstrong was torn apart by his future.

An engineering graduate from West Point, Armstrong interviewed several engineering companies, but his real passion lay in public service, so he was brought in to study at Maxwell School.

While Armstrong is incredibly proud of his service to his country, he is even prouder of the way Syracuse University and the IVMF provide resources to the military men and women of our country.

“It all starts at the top. Can you think of another university that, in its strategic plan, aims to help veterans and their families achieve their goals? I am proud to be Orange and proud to have the opportunity to continue this mission and this commitment we made to serve our Veterans and their families, ”said Armstrong.

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