Liaison Work

by Allen Dale Olson

In May 1967 I checked into the Directorate of the United States Dependents Schools, European Area (USDESEA) in Karlsruhe, Germany, beginning a twenty-plus year career of working with remarkable educators and military officers. USDESEA had been established by the Defense Department to operate under the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) some 200-plus elementary, middle, and high schools for the sons and daughters of military personnel assigned to the European Area.

For school purposes, in 1967 the European Area extended from sub-Saharan Africa to the Arctic Circle, from Rota, Spain, to Ankara, Turkey, and enrolled more than 100,000 students in schools on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations. USDESEA also had responsibility for paying tuition to international and State Department schools in locations where too few military dependents precluded operating a school. These “tuition-fee”  schools were all over Africa, the Middle East, and in European cities where there were no U.S. military installations. USDESEA was responsible for ascertaining that these schools were providing an acceptable American-style education.

The USDESEA Directorate was organized much like the superintendencies of civilian school systems in the United States – a Director with heads of Curriculum, Logistics, Finances, Facilities, Personnel, and Elementary and Secondary Specialists. Subordinate District Superintendents were based in parts of Germany, along the Mediterranean Coast, and in England. School facilities and transportation services were the responsibility of local host installation commanders, reimbursed by USDESEA.

(It should be noted that while schools in the European Area were supported by the Army, the schools in the Pacific Area – Japan, Korea, etc. – were under the Department of Air Force, and the schools in the Atlantic Theater – Azores, Bermuda, Iceland, etc. – were under the Department of Navy, all with their own civilian school Directorate.)

I arrived to fill a new position for which a job description evolved, ending up with a vague Executive Officer title responsible primarily for public affairs and school-community relations. I loved those duties!

Not only did they necessitate my working with all the Directorate staff but they also meant I had to circulate among the district offices and the schools to meet with local commanders and school staffs. In short, I was not only immersed in the education profession and in communication with strategic military missions and stationing plans, I was also really seeing the world!

My position led to becoming the school system representative to the Transatlantic Boy Scout Council, the North Atlantic Girl Scout Council, the European PTA, and management spokesman for negotiations with the Overseas Education Association and the Overseas Federation of Teachers. It required me to be acquainted with all aspects of school system policies, military populations (to include nature of missions), curriculum decisions, and involved in the development of new and unique programs such as Project Bold, D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse and Resistance Education), African-American Studies. I met with Education Ministers throughout Germany, in England, Holland, and Belgium in search of host nation resource teachers to help our students with language and cultural studies. I was part of numerous meetings working out support details for the establishment of international schools at AFCENT Headquarters in the Netherlands and at NATO-SHAPE Headquarters near Brussels. I met almost weekly with reporters for STARS and STRIPES and the American Forces Radio Network for discussions about school programs, personalities, and current education issues. (Because of the number of letters I answered for STARS and STRIPES, one of the editors referred to me as “The Ann Landers of USDESEA.”)

Other duties included scheduling, planning for, and hosting visiting dignitaries from the Congress, the Defense Department, and Stateside universities and attending national education conferences in the United States. Another very big project in the late 1970s reached my desk: develop a plan to establish a local  advisory council at each school; a regional advisory council for each Directorate, a European level school advisory council, and a similar council at the DoD level!

In short, these duties added up to more than 100,000 traveling miles a year!

Twelve years later, in 1979, Congressional Committees and Defense Department officials determined that the central authority for the schools should be in the Pentagon and that the overseas areas should be broken into smaller “regions,” each with its own regional director and staff. It took a while, because interests within and without the school system and the military departments were not convinced this was a good plan. At the same time, an initiative that reached the White House level would have the Defense Department schools transfer into the new Department of Education and be assigned to an Under Secretary. (Full disclosure: my name was a finalist on the White House list for that secretarial position.)

The services and many long-time veterans of the school system were opposed to the transfer to the Department of Education. When it became obvious that many international Status-of-Forces Agreements and federal employment benefits would have to be revised, the transfer proposal failed, and the DoD centralization happened instead.  USDESEA was dissolved; DoDDS Germany Region North and DoDDS Germany Region South as well as  DoDDS Atlantic and DoDDS Mediterranean Regions were created to replace it.

The USAREUR staff requested a DoD liaison to work with them on their school responsibilities. DoD and one Regional Director resisted the idea; other Directors and the Navy and Air Force both pushed for a liaison. When DoDDS Washington concurred, the USAREUR Commander-in-Chief name-requested me but the DoDDS Director insisted that I also maintain a desk in the DoDDS Germany South office in Karlsruhe. USAREUR accepted that for a while but soon realized that to be credible to their school-hosting installation commanders, the liaison would have to be a full-time USAREUR employee, not a DoDDS employee, so they created such a position to which I was appointed.

My USAREUR duties were not terribly different from my former duties with USDESEA, though I no longer handled press relations. I became a voting member of the European School Advisory Council which met quarterly at one of the command headquarters – Navy in London, USEUCOM in Stuttgart; Air Force in Wiesbaden, later Ramstein; and Army in Heidelberg; and  I became a voting member of the Dependent Education Council which met quarterly in the Pentagon. Agendas included issues obtained from school level and subordinate command officials, such as V Corps (Frankfurt), VII Corps (Stuttgart), 21st Support Command (Kaiserslautern), SETAF (Vicenza), and 7th ATC (Grafenwoehr). I continued to  meet regularly with the Regional Directors (Wiesbaden, Karlsruhe, London, and Madrid) and with designated school officers at subordinate commands, with Air Force and Navy counterparts, and to attend all the regional conferences of school administrators.

The effectiveness of a liaison officer is almost impossible to quantify. If the number of meetings attended and miles traveled or hotel beds slept in were the chief criteria, the evaluations would go through the roof!  But when a school principal needs clarification for his or her installation commander that it’s really the host’s responsibility for school lunch programs, bus transportation and discipline, and for facility maintenance, it’s helpful to have an Army headquarters staffer at his side. Or when a commander or parent committee has concerns about a school issue or employee, it’s useful to bring in opinions from one who has been on the school side to help bring the parties together.

As one who performed liaison duties for twenty years, I can only say the experiences were richly rewarding: because of the caliber of people I met and worked with. The principals and teachers were some of the most imaginative, creative, and dedicated as any I could ever meet; and the military personnel with whom I was surrounded proved over and over how much they honor country, citizen, and duty; and because of being involved with the missions on Freedom’s Frontier with those who served NATO and protected America and Americans.

Not only that, I learned where I could find the best meals near train stations, motor pools, in airports, and along the Autobahns!


We are seeking submissions of stories about schooling on military installations.

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Schooling With Uncle Sam will focus on personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.) Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.


CALL FOR STORIES-75th Anniversary DODDS-DODEA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

On October 14, 2021,  the Museum of the American Military Family will observe the 75th anniversary of the opening of Defense Department Dependents Schools in Europe and the Far East by releasing a commemorative anthology,  “SCHOOLING WITH UNCLE SAM.”

The anthology will not focus on the school system history or governing policies but on  personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation and move from year to year to another country or state  – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.)

This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized.

Your story  should be first-person and can be as long or short as you choose. Please also consider including black-and-white photos to help illustrate your memoir. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.

Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.

Story suggestions … a unique classroom, your daily commute to school, your host nation neighborhood, a military “incident” in or around school, a favorite host nation restaurant or field trip experience,  a celebrity or high ranking or local dignitary visiting your school, something funny at school. Or an event memorable to you.

You need not be an accomplished writer to participate. MAMF will provide minor editing to sharpen your contribution.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 2, 2021. The anthology will be released at a public anniversary observance in October of 2021.

To submit a story, or for more information, please e-mail the submissions to OlsonAllen@msn.com.

To learn more about the museum visit the website: www.militaryfamilymuseum.org and follow us on FB http://www.facebook.com/MuseumoftheAmericanMilitaryFamily.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SOME REMARKABLE MEMORIES!

 


We are seeking submissions of stories about schooling on military installations.

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 10.36.00 AM

Schooling With Uncle Sam will focus on personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.) Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.


CALL FOR STORIES-75th Anniversary DODDS-DODEA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

On October 14, 2021,  the Museum of the American Military Family will observe the 75th anniversary of the opening of Defense Department Dependents Schools in Europe and the Far East by releasing a commemorative anthology,  “SCHOOLING WITH UNCLE SAM.”

The anthology will not focus on the school system history or governing policies but on  personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation and move from year to year to another country or state  – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.)

This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized.

Your story  should be first-person and can be as long or short as you choose. Please also consider including black-and-white photos to help illustrate your memoir. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.

Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.

Story suggestions … a unique classroom, your daily commute to school, your host nation neighborhood, a military “incident” in or around school, a favorite host nation restaurant or field trip experience,  a celebrity or high ranking or local dignitary visiting your school, something funny at school. Or an event memorable to you.

You need not be an accomplished writer to participate. MAMF will provide minor editing to sharpen your contribution.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 2, 2021. The anthology will be released at a public anniversary observance in October of 2021.

To submit a story, or for more information, please e-mail the submissions to OlsonAllen@msn.com.

To learn more about the museum visit the website: www.militaryfamilymuseum.org and follow us on FB http://www.facebook.com/MuseumoftheAmericanMilitaryFamily.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SOME REMARKABLE MEMORIES!

 


We are seeking submissions of stories about schooling on military installations.

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 10.36.00 AM

Schooling With Uncle Sam will focus on personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.) Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.


CALL FOR STORIES-75th Anniversary DODDS-DODEA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

On October 14, 2021,  the Museum of the American Military Family will observe the 75th anniversary of the opening of Defense Department Dependents Schools in Europe and the Far East by releasing a commemorative anthology,  “SCHOOLING WITH UNCLE SAM.”

The anthology will not focus on the school system history or governing policies but on  personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation and move from year to year to another country or state  – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.)

This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized.

Your story  should be first-person and can be as long or short as you choose. Please also consider including black-and-white photos to help illustrate your memoir. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.

Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.

Story suggestions … a unique classroom, your daily commute to school, your host nation neighborhood, a military “incident” in or around school, a favorite host nation restaurant or field trip experience,  a celebrity or high ranking or local dignitary visiting your school, something funny at school. Or an event memorable to you.

You need not be an accomplished writer to participate. MAMF will provide minor editing to sharpen your contribution.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 2, 2021. The anthology will be released at a public anniversary observance in October of 2021.

To submit a story, or for more information, please e-mail the submissions to OlsonAllen@msn.com.

To learn more about the museum visit the website: www.militaryfamilymuseum.org and follow us on FB http://www.facebook.com/MuseumoftheAmericanMilitaryFamily.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SOME REMARKABLE MEMORIES!

 


We are seeking submissions of stories about schooling on military installations.

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 10.36.00 AM

Schooling With Uncle Sam will focus on personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.) Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.


CALL FOR STORIES-75th Anniversary DODDS-DODEA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

On October 14, 2021,  the Museum of the American Military Family will observe the 75th anniversary of the opening of Defense Department Dependents Schools in Europe and the Far East by releasing a commemorative anthology,  “SCHOOLING WITH UNCLE SAM.”

The anthology will not focus on the school system history or governing policies but on  personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation and move from year to year to another country or state  – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.)

This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized.

Your story  should be first-person and can be as long or short as you choose. Please also consider including black-and-white photos to help illustrate your memoir. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.

Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.

Story suggestions … a unique classroom, your daily commute to school, your host nation neighborhood, a military “incident” in or around school, a favorite host nation restaurant or field trip experience,  a celebrity or high ranking or local dignitary visiting your school, something funny at school. Or an event memorable to you.

You need not be an accomplished writer to participate. MAMF will provide minor editing to sharpen your contribution.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 2, 2021. The anthology will be released at a public anniversary observance in October of 2021.

To submit a story, or for more information, please e-mail the submissions to OlsonAllen@msn.com.

To learn more about the museum visit the website: www.militaryfamilymuseum.org and follow us on FB http://www.facebook.com/MuseumoftheAmericanMilitaryFamily.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SOME REMARKABLE MEMORIES!

 


TELLING THE STORY OF MILITARY FAMILIES

As the only museum in the country dedicated to collecting and preserving the stories, documents, photographs, and artifacts of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and spouses of those who serve and have served in America’s military, the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF)includes a permanent exhibition about the history of DoDEA since its founding and a collection of  teacher-collected artifacts from around the world.

Founded by former DoDEA teacher and student, Circe Olson Woessner is the daughter of long-time DoDEA staffer and WWII veteran and is a military wife and mother and brings a realistic and enriching perspective to the unique challenges and achievements of military families.

Besides presenting permanent and revolving exhibits about the life style of military family members and the educators who support them, MAMF conducts town hall meetings about military and military veteran issues and interacts with a world-wide audience through a variety of social media and through a series of audio and video podcasts.

MAMF has been recognized in each of the past three years with Awards of Excellence by the American Association of State and Local History including an Albert Corey Award for exceptionally distinguished programming. It is affiliated with the American Alliance of Museums, the New Mexico Association of Museums, and the Museum Collaborative Council of Albuquerque.

MAMF’s Operation Footlocker is a mini mobile museum treasure chest of memories donated by military families, military brats, and teachers from the overseas schools of the Defense Department. The fleet of eight footlockers travels around the USA – to brat functions, to schools, to libraries, to teacher and military reunions – anywhere people gather who want to learn more about the military family experience.

Dr. Woessner is now looking forward to next October and the 75th anniversary of the establishments of DoDEA schools around the world. She is planning to publish an anthology of stories by teachers, past and present, about their unique experiences teaching and working in civilian-type schools on military installations throughout the States and around the world. Through DoDEA and MAMF websites, she will issue a call for stories along with guidelines for submission in October 2020.

MAMF has already published a series of such anthologies: War Child, a collection of stories by adults who grew up as children in a war zone; Front Lines to the Homefront, stories by adults reflecting on their experiences in or around war; On Freedom’s Frontier: Life on the Fulda Gap, stories by veterans and family members who lived and worked along one of the world’s most sensitive potential battlegrounds.

Their anthology SHOUT! Sharing our Truth, by LGBT veterans and veteran family members about their service in the military before and after Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, has been produced as a play performed in Richmond, Virginia, and scheduled for performances in San Francisco and Providence next year. MAMF has also turned the anthology into a documentary film.

Visit website www.militaryfamilymuseum.org to learn more about MAMF and what it is doing to honor military families and the schools that serve them and to provide a place for scholars to learn the history of the millions of families who have also “served” our country.