ATDM Efforts and Graduates Featured on Military Makeover Program

A large group of graduates of the Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing program stand on a stage along with the program's leadership.

The effort to ensure a well-trained next generation of skilled tradespeople by one outstanding center continues to garner spotlights.

The Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing (ATDM) program in Danville, Virginia was recently featured by “Military Makeover with Montel.” The show, led by U.S. Navy veteran and television legend Montel Williams, airs on Lifetime TV and the American Forces Network, and its focus is on improving the lives of the military families across the country.

ATDM and its enrollees were part of the segment in the show’s “Operation Career,” which aims to capture the stories of veterans transitioning into civilian life.

A write-up by ATDM Director Debra Holley was also recently published by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ news division. She presented more about the 16-week program to learn various trades.

Both the show and the VA News piece highlighted Makhi Butler, who served for six years in the United States Marine Corps. He graduated from ATDM this month after training to become a CNC machinist. Butler garnered multiple job offers coming out of the program.

“It’s meticulous,” he said of CNC machining. “You’re learning how to read blueprints and drawings, with a bit of trigonometry thrown in the mix. It can be challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s second nature. You make quality parts that are up to code, which can be a tedious trial-and-error process. It’s incredibly satisfying when you get it right.”

Makhi Butler gets ready to walk the stage at the ATDM Completion Ceremony on February 2, 2024

At an October summit in Danville, ground was broken on Navy's National Training Center. Labs, equipment and classrooms will make up the 100,000 square foot facility. ATDM hopes to graduate up to 1,000 people from its program each year with this new, major addition to its efforts.

Visit to learn more about training you or someone you know can receive. For more on the careers currently available in the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base, visit the Career Paths and Opportunities sections here at


Written by:
Steve Fullhart, BlueForge Alliance

Photos from:
Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

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