FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Aug. 12, 2011) -- The Continuing Education for Senior Leaders course 11-501 opened on Monday with Wounded Warrior, Spc. Rory Dunn discussing his combat experiences and struggle to survive at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after he was wounded in Iraq in 2004. For the 61 students listening to his story, it was eye-opening and stressed the importance of the coming week.

For Debra Jordan, a current CESL student and the Department of the Army liaison for continuous process improvements at the Installation Management Command, Dunn’s story was a revelation.

“It was absolutely necessary to hear his story. He is the voice of our customers and how we provide services to our Wounded Warriors. It focused us on why we are Army civilians,” Jordan said.

CESL, created in 2008 and taught by the Army Management Staff College, provides further education opportunities beyond the Civilian Education System for senior Army civilians, GS-14s and 15s, after they have graduated from AMSC’s advanced course. It combines a 40-hour, online portion and a weeklong resident portion.

“CESL allows senior-level, Army civilians the opportunity to come back into an educational atmosphere, learn about the newest initiatives, and get a refresher on what is happening throughout the Army,” said Jacqueline Wilson, CESL acting director of CESL, “We want to emphasize that an educated and informed Army civilian is necessary and essential to the work force. The information they gain here, they can share with their organization and people when they return.”

“CESL is providing us the insight we need as senior leaders to know what is going on at higher levels,” said Jordan. “It deals with the latest issues, such as resource and shortage issues; the gap between military and civilian leadership training; bringing into focus national strategy issues; and how we, as senior leaders, can define our role and better help the Army meet its objectives.”

Over the course of the residency, students receive briefings and lectures on a variety of “big picture” items impacting the Army, from an array of guest speakers including general officers, senior executives, and subject-matter experts. These items run a gamut of things from Wounded Warrior care; civilian work force transformation; Army budget issues and media relations, to China’s culture and geo-political impact on the West. In addition to briefings and lectures, students, in smaller groups, have to develop, write and brief recommendations for Army issues. In the case of Class 11-501, those problems focused on civilian work force transformation and civilian leadership development.

While CESL has an impact on the students, guest speakers and course visitors also see its advantages. Joseph McDade, Army assistant deputy chief of staff G-1 and a guest speaker about the Army’s Civilian Workforce Transformation initiative stressed the value of CESL for him as a senior Army leader.

“It is a two-way street, I learned as much from them as I hope they learned from me. It was very beneficial to get the students’ insights and their feedback,” said McDade, “I can take that back immediately as a senior leader and make sure that we, at headquarters, are addressing the concerns I heard here today.”

For Dunn, it allowed him to emphasize the impact Army civilians can have addressing the challenges and struggles faced by Wounded Warriors.

“The Civilian Corps can be great if they extend themselves,” said Dunn, “Listen to our Wounded Warriors, and be there to listen when they have an issue. If you can’t solve it, then be there to advocate a solution.”

The next iteration of CESL is scheduled for December. More information on the course and eligibility requirements is available from AMSC’s website,