SEMBACH, Germany - Before Soldiers can take advantage of their tuition benefits through the Army Continuing Education System, they are required to meet with an Army education counselor. For those stationed or deployed away from brick and mortar Education Service Centers the ACES Virtual Education Center is making this requirement as simple as sending an email or logging on to Teams.
When ACES organized its Virtual Education Center, we made sure that some of the counselors would be here in Europe so they could help Soldiers in real time, said Ela Karczewska, Education Services chief for Installation Management Command Europe. The virtual counselors, who work out of Germany and Italy, are available to help Soldiers stationed at or deployed to sites such as Poland and Romania.
“The Soldier from Fort Carson will have to wait eight hours for the counselor in Fort Carson to wake up and get to work. But if we have those virtual counselors, if we have them in Europe, they can help in real time, and they are amazing,” Karczewska said.
The Europe-based counselors come online at 7:30 a.m. Central European Time. With their state-side colleagues coming online later in the afternoon, Soldiers can actually get virtual education services until about midnight.
“We really want them to know that we’re here for them, that we’re available,” said Dana Allison, one of the Europe-based virtual guidance counselors. “We’re still trying to get the word out.”
The team has been circulating flyers with a QR code that pulls up a blank email for Soldiers to contact the team. They can set up one-on-one audio or video counseling sessions via Teams to Soldiers’ Army or personal email accounts. The counselors are also available to provide unit briefings.
“We're absolutely happy to help anybody that reaches out to us,” Allison said. “We will do our best to assist them.”
The Virtual Education Center counselors can provide assistance with education counseling including degree and career exploration, ArmyIgnitED, tuition assistance, credentialing assistance, military withdrawals and account holds, exams for college credit, Army Personnel Testing, Virtual Basic Skills Education Program and VA education benefits.
Soldiers can reach the Virtual Education Center via email at email@example.com.