CAMP ZAMA, Japan – After receiving commendation for his role in managing the launch of the Army’s new tuition-assistance website, Camp Zama’s education services officer reflected on the recognition, while also extoling the benefits of the Education Center here.
David Rood was in San Antonio, Texas, March 9 to receive the Civilian Service Commendation Medal, which he earned for overseeing the launch of the portal site ArmyIgnitED 1.0, which is aimed at helping Soldiers reach their higher educational goals.
The portal initially suffered from numerous system errors that prevented Soldiers from accessing the various services ArmyIgnitED offered. Rood’s “exceptional service and performance” and management were vital throughout the “tumultuous” launch process for the site, his award citation and justification read.
It was obvious from the beginning of the launch that Soldiers using the site were having difficulty doing things like choosing their education goal, requesting tuition assistance, and actually receiving tuition assistance, Rood said.
During a particularly challenging period in the site’s launch, Rood remembers he and his colleague put a lot of effort into working together to assist the Soldiers who were affected by the issues with the site.
“I’d like to think that the commendation medal, which many other of my colleagues around the globe and I received, reflects our resiliency in the face of incredible challenges and the absolute dedication we have to help the Soldiers we’re responsible for,” Rood said.
First Sgt. Roberto Vieyra, assigned to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, is a regular beneficiary of the Education Services Office. He praised Rood for going “the extra mile” in helping him and his Soldiers better understand and navigate ArmyIgnitED, and said that because of his help, Vieyra is on track to graduate from American Military University in September.
“Mr. Rood has been nothing short of a lifesaver in helping me with my educational goals,” Vieyra said.
Sgt. Ericteckleong Lee, assigned to the U.S. Army Japan Band, was appreciative of Rood for his help in receiving tuition assistance for an advanced Japanese language class he enrolled in.
“Mr. Rood was very helpful with what I needed to find out and take care of,” Lee said.
Rood’s role as the education services officer is to manage the staff at the Education Center and the many services it provides, including educational counseling, help with the Joint Services Transcript and Army Personnel Testing, on-post college programs and exams, and the “Headstart” program for newcomers to Japan.
Rood said Headstart is a beneficial program because it provides new Soldiers, civilian employees and their family members with an introduction to Japanese language and culture that helps ease their transition to a new place.
The main focus of the Education Center is making sure the education needs of Soldiers are fulfilled quickly and correctly, Rood said. But although much of the services offered there are Soldier-centric, he emphasized that he and his staff are more than willing to assist everyone in the community any way they can.
“We truly are a ‘one-stop shop’ when it comes to higher education, and we welcome everyone,” he said.