NEWS | April 13, 2021

Tuition assistance benefit available to Tobyhanna employees

By Ms. Danielle Weinschenk

Tobyhanna Army Depot employees are eligible for a lucrative tuition assistance program, allowing them to expand their skill sets and potentially grow their careers.

The depot’s non-duty developmental training program (NDDT) paid more than $600,000 towards tuition assistance last year. The initiative is directly aligned with Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, Toby 2028, which has a line of effort dedicated to investing in its people.

Frank Gervasi used the NDDT program to turn his interest in electronics into a career. He started with Team Tobyhanna as a painting worker, traveling the world in support of overhaul missions. Advice from a co-worker – “Don’t spend your whole life here” - prompted him to enroll in a cooperative program between Lackawanna and Johnson Colleges that provided training in electronics and communication disciplines. Because courses only ran during the day, Gervasi voluntarily transferred to the Production Management directorate, where he could work as a forklift driver on second shift.

“Going to school all day and then coming to work at night was not my idea of fun, but I knew it was for a purpose” he said.

After three tough years, Gervasi graduated with his Associate’s Degree and entered the former SCEP Program (the current Pathways Program) as an electronics worker in the C4ISR directorate. Reflecting upon his experience, Gervasi stated that he would gladly do it all again, as his education helped grow his career.

Melia Smirne was inspired by stories like Gervasi’s when she decided to return to school two years ago.

“I always wanted to finish my degree, but things kept getting in the way,” she said. “The fact that the depot provided tuition assistance pushed me to finally do it.”

Returning to school proved to be beneficial for Smirne in more ways than one. She says it has become an important part of her relationship with her son, who has learned that education can be a lifelong pursuit.

“When we get home, my son will ask me if I also have homework,” she said, “And if I do, we do it together.”

After graduation, Smirne hopes to work in an analytical capacity and gain a graduate degree. She encourages other depot employees to take advantage of this benefit and to follow their dreams.

“Going back to school takes time and effort, but it is so worth it. Instead of playing on your phone at night, you can do your coursework. Honestly, it’s totally doable.”

Other depot employees credit the tuition assistance program with helping them truly transform their livelihoods. Andrew “AJ” Mattox joined Team Tobyhanna as a production floor worker in 2007. Today, he leads the Secure Communications Project Management Branch and oversees 21 employees. Mattox says his achievement was made possible by the tuition assistance program.

“It took me 13 years and a lot of hard work to get my ‘dream’ job. I believe my education and professional certifications played a large role in making me the best candidate for this position.”

Mattox’s interest in working for Tobyhanna started years ago when he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He often saw equipment repaired at Tobyhanna Army Depot and took pride in knowing his fellow Soldiers were safe because of equipment repaired in his home state.

“I appreciated the work the depot did and always thought it would be cool to work here,” he said.

After joining Team Tobyhanna, Mattox recognized the wide range of opportunities and felt a pull towards the business side of depot operations.

“I liked doing technical work, but I felt a need to learn more and make a bigger impact.”

Driven by his desire for growth, he pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, a Master’s Degree in Worldview Studies and is currently working on an MBA at Syracuse University – all of which he says have benefitted the depot.

“Everything I’ve learned in my degree courses has helped me better support our missions, regardless of where I worked.”

Mattox recognizes the challenges associated with continuing education, but believes the benefits outweigh the risks.

“To anyone who feels like they are capable of contributing more to our mission, I say this: you can do it. You have to go for it, work hard, and expand your skill set through certifications and degree programs. I’m proof that the tuition assistance program can help you change your life.”

All permanent depot employees are eligible for up to $10,000 of tuition assistance per fiscal year (FY). Courses must be related to the depot’s overall mission, but do not need to be directly related to the employee’s current job.

Employees interested in taking non-duty developmental training can review Employee Bulletin #48, Developmental Non-Duty Training (Tuition Assistance) or contact the Employee Development Division, X57104 for more information.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,700 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.