It seems the more things change the more they stay the same. Military recruiting of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) professionals is essential for the defense of our nation. Unlikely as it may sound, this is not a new concept and it may be of particular importance to you and your transition out of the military.

STEM Program During World War II

Much like today’s DoD STEM program, the V-12 Navy College Training Program supplemented the U.S. Navy Commissioned Officer Corps during World War II. Between July 1943 and June 1946, more than 125,000 students were enrolled in 131 colleges and universities in the United States.

The goal of the V-12 and the similar Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) in the early 1940s was to produce 200,000 technically trained personnel in the fields as engineering, foreign languages, and medicine to help our nation bring an end to World War II. Participants were expected but not required to become officers at the end of their training.

Different Time but Similar Goals

I recently had the honor of talking with Ted Mann, a 1945 graduate of the V-12 program at Case School of Applied Science. During Ted Mann’s last Seamanship class at Columbia University Naval Reserve Midshipman School, Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 15, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki. Earning a chemical engineering degree, Ted was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and immediately attended radar school near Hollywood, Florida and St. Simons Island, Georgia. Subsequently, Ted Served with a Destroyer Squadron based out of Hawaii.

After a total of three years, Ted decided to get out of the Navy. Pondering his future career path with his parents in Utah, he finally decided to go back to university. Like so many others, he went back to his alma mater. During the initial days back at Case School of Applied Science, he ran into one of his former instructors. Professor McCullough remembered teaching Ted and told him that he also remembered that he did not like lab work. McCullough stated “Sales would be a better career for you” rather than working in a lab or plant.

Ted Mann took these words to heart and began studying and developing a network to enter the career field of sales. He first interviewed with Standard Oil, who desired Ted to work with economic evaluation. Reflecting on his discussion with his professor who really thought sales would be the best move for his future career, he subsequently selected Dow Chemical. Through a 40-year career, Ted moved up the ranks and around the country with his wife Bev and six children, ending a fantastic career as a General Sales Manager for Dow Chemical. Today, at 96 years young, he lives in Pensacola, Florida. Often reflecting on his successes and accomplishments, he spent some time educating me on the greatest generation and the Navy’s V-12 Program, which I will be forever thankful.

The Value of Military Education Benefits

Like many others, Ted Mann has enjoyed success in life partly due to the military educational scholarship. There are many programs such as the DoD STEM program, ROTC, Uniformed Service University and of course the Military Academies. These excellent institutions and associated programs provide a need for so many young men and women for an education while provisioning our government and military with a highly educated specialist.

Interestingly, many of the attendees are former service members that have already served our great nation. They learned about the program during or after their departure from the service, obtained extraordinary training and subsequently returned to serve our great Nation. Perhaps this is an alternative that you have not considered during your military transition studies. Make sure you look around at all your opportunities before you select your future career path after military service.

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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at