Local leaders selected for Joint Civilian Orientation Conference

21 May 2009 | Pamela Jackson

Two of the top local educators in Dougherty County have been selected to attend the 77th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in June. 

Dr. Everette Freeman, president, Albany State University and Dr. Sally Whatley, superintendent, Dougherty County School System, were selected to attend a week-long outreach program sponsored by the Department of Defense.

According to the website, www.jcoc., JCOC, which began in 1948, is a Secretary of Defense sponsored program for America’s leaders interested in expanding their knowledge of the military and national defense. Hosted by the U.S. Northern Command, JCOC 77 will be located in Colorado Springs, CO.

Marine Administrative Message 741/08 states that the purpose of JCOC is to provide an opportunity for a diverse cross-section of influential U.S. public opinion and business leaders to better understand the missions and goals of the United States military and to meet service men and women from all branches.

Freeman, nominated by Maj. Gen. Willie J. Williams, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, said, “I am thrilled to be selected for such a prestigious program.  It is really an honor, not just for me, but for ASU, because it will allow me to gain an even greater appreciation for the armed forces and what our military does for the country and all of us around the world.

“It is especially valuable because with our developing logistics program with Albany Technical College  and LOGCOM, it will give me an opportunity to see how we can expand that program, because it is an online program.  We may be able to expand it to other branches of service eventually,” Freeman said.

“This is a great opportunity for the local community leaders to learn and become more informed advocates about our Marine Corps and the DoD. JCOC is a Secretary of Defense sponsored program for America's leaders interested in expanding their knowledge of the military and national defense. Dr. Freeman is an excellent teacher and administrator who will carry on the great tradition of community involvement with our military,” said Maj. Gen. Willie J. Williams, commanding general, LOGCOM.

Freeman said he was notified by mail first, but when the e-mail came, he did a ‘jig’.  “Both Doctor Anthony Parker, president, ATC and Mike Gebhart, publisher, The Albany Herald, had already told me about the value the program had for them.  I know the importance and value of this program and how much I will benefit from attending.  ASU will benefit from the contacts that are made and the broadened prospective I will have from being involved.”

Whatley, nominated by Col. C.N. Haliday, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., said, “I am honored to have been selected to attend this program.  Had I not been chosen this year, I would still be honored to have been nominated three times by the base.  I know it is a very competitive process, but  for me to have the opportunity to see day-to-day operations and what they do on a much broader scale than what I see from my current prospective is exciting.

“I have such respect and admiration for the military and their service, especially the base here.  I am very, very excited.  I only know about the Marine Corps from a local perspective and being involved with local community groups that interact with the base, including the base realignment and closure process.  So, I really do have a lot to learn and that is exciting to me,” Whatley said.

Haliday said, “We’re delighted that Dr. Sally Whatley was selected to participate in JCOC. The program will give her some very special insights concerning DoD, the individual services and military service in general.  I believe that her JCOC experience will better equip her, as a leading educator in the community, to discuss the pros and cons of military service with her students who might be considering it following high school.”

From the hundreds of nominations received from around the nation, only 30 were selected for this class. 

Both Whatley and Freeman attributed their selection to the respect and admiration for their nominators, but both also admit they have a great relationship and close collaboration with the base that has grown exponentially over the years. 

Whatley said, “My father was in the Army and also completed a short stint in the Navy.   I have extended family that served in the military, but none were Marines.  I’ve gotten   ‘snippets’ of some of the sacrifice that is made from my perspective as superintendent.  I see the transition in and out of our schools and how difficult it can be to transition children and families into a school community, then being uprooted after getting settled in and moving again.”

Whatley and Freeman will fly to Colorado May 31 and spend several days in California and New Mexico.   JCOC participants attend briefings by senior military and civilian officials, followed by hands-on experiences observing exercises, participating in training and interacting with troops. 

 “I am not sure exactly what to expect, but there is an eager excitement and anticipation.  All we are told is to dress comfortably, no suits or dresses, and expect very long days.  I will be prepared.  In some ways it will be a greater appreciation, but I don’t have to be convinced, because that appreciation is already there for me,” Whatley said.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany