FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- For Soldiers and Family Members wanting to further their education, another facility is now available to help them with their journey.
Since August, the new Education Center Annex, located in Bldg. 10450 on 5th Armored Division Drive, has been providing educational counseling, assistance and classroom facilities to the Fort Drum community.
The creation of the Education Center Annex is three years in the making, according to Joe Agresti, education services officer. When 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum leaders met with Jefferson Community College representatives, they discussed a possible need for additional classroom and education space once Soldiers be-gan redeploying.
"One (option) was to take one of the first generation dining facilities that weren't being used anymore and convert it to an Ed- ucation Center Annex," Agresti said. "(Garrison leaders) developed, with the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers and Public Works, a plan to rehabilitate this building.
"After cutting up the building," he continued, "we found we could have a counseling office, college administration center and seven classrooms.
"I think there's only one wall that existed in the original DFAC," he added.
During the day, Soldiers use the classrooms for training and professional development courses. In the afternoon and at night, JCC holds classes at the annex.
On Thursdays and Fridays, the annex also houses the division's Master Resiliency Training modules and will soon provide space to the Army Career and Alumni Program and Sexual Harassment / Assault Response and Prevention program, Agresti said.
"The annex has allowed us to expand a little," he said. "We've expanded our offerings through Columbia College, as well as Jefferson (Community College)."
Agresti added that the Education Center will offer educational opportunities through additional schools.
"It also helps us sustain the skill training required by the brigades by giving us some new venues," he said. "As we look into an expanded transition program, we have an opportunity to provide a little more technology than we have in our Education Center."
Because the Education Center Annex is nestled among 1st Bri-gade Combat Team's buildings, it's been much easier to get face time with the Soldiers, according to Mary Anne Vaughn, lead guidance counselor.
"I like the fact that I'm right here and I'm more in touch with the Soldiers," she said. "You miss that when you're in the main center."
Vaughn is responsible for providing educational briefings to 1st BCT Soldiers and family readiness groups, but she said she can provide counseling to anyone.
"I talk about what the Education Center has to offer, I talk about the colleges and I provide general information about the incentives program," she said. "For Family Members, I talk about financial aid and scholarships, and going to school while their husbands or wives are deployed.
"This is an opportune time for them, and they can take the classes right in the Education Centers," Vaughn added,
Since the facility opened, just having the sign out front has attracted Soldiers and Family Members who are interested in ed- ucation opportunities available during their stay at Fort Drum, Vaughn said.
The Education Center offers several benefits to Soldiers, including initial education counseling, remediation classes, Army personnel testing for military schools and post-secondary college courses, which includes masters-level training.
Family Members are eligible for initial / follow-up educational counseling, as well as assistance with enrolling in English as a Second Language and General Educational Development courses.
The Education Center Annex is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 12:45 to 4 p.m. Wednesday.
For more information, call Vaughn at 772-0343.

Page last updated Thu December 6th, 2012 at 12:18