Veterans Affairs launches distance learning center

The new center is designed to enhance the skills of about 7,000 IT professionals within the VA’s Office of Information & Technology as part of efforts to enhance customer services to veterans.

“We’re so glad that snowmageddon is over and we were able to reschedule this ribbon cutting ceremony for a nice spring day here ...,” said Terri S. Cinnamon, director of workforce development and training.

Cinnamon was joined in Spring Mills for the ceremony by Dave Bates, deputy director of the National IT Training Academy; John Sepulveda, assistant secretary for Human Resources and Administration; and John Oswalt, associate deputy assistant secretary for IT Resource Management.

“Since we had to reschedule the ribbon cutting (because of the snowstorms) ... we have already trained over 400 (people) across the country using this technology in the past month,” Cinnamon said.

Additional regional distance learning centers in Vancouver, Wash., Salt Lake City and Albany, N.Y., are expected to be connected to the IT hub in Spring Mills as part of a second phase of expansion this year, Cinnamon said.

The classroom space at Spring Mills also will be expanded by 24 seats, bringing the capacity there to nearly 100, Cinnamon said.

In an interview, Cinnamon said the first phase of the IT Training Academy cost about $1.5 million to launch.

Prior to moving to the GSA-leased warehouse space at 728 TJ Jackson Drive in Spring Mills in 2006, Cinnamon said she worked out of facilities at the VA’s medical center campus east of Martinsburg.

“This is a major upgrade for us,” Cinnamon said.

With the virtual, distance learning network in place, Cinnamon said the federal agency expects to save substantial traveling costs.

“We’ve had people from Guam come here (for training),” Cinnamon said.

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