As we approach Veteran’s Day, we would like to honor and salute all of our veterans. Thank you for your service in protecting our country and for defending the freedom that we enjoy today. When transitioning from active to civilian, many veterans choose to stay in their specific fields. In my experience, a vast majority decide to change careers at some point. Despite this, many continue to serve and protect in a novel way on a different “front line”. What is their new mission? What is this “front-line” that I speak of? They are now on the frontlines of technology, serving and protecting customers and our country from cyberattacks and cyberwars. Their new mission is to keep a watchful eye for threats, defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks. These veterans are still warriors, but instead of using artillery and bullets, they are armed with information, software, and tools to defend against hostile forces and “bad actors” in our digital space.
When joining our armed forces, veterans take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Organizations can count on veterans to follow through on this oath and to stay true to the mission. This is due to an ingrained conviction to protect and defend. This gives an organization a strategic advantage in fighting “cyberattacks,” resulting in the protection of critical data and corporate assets.
The rewards and benefits of hiring veterans is a topic widely written about and it is always a plus to hear how vets have positively impacted teams and companies. Deepwatch is very proud of and impressed by our veteran colleagues. There are common traits exhibited by our veterans. Here are a few examples:
- Goal and mission-oriented with a strong work ethic.
- Ingrained leadership and teamwork skills honed by years of training, dedication, and practice.
- Highly disciplined and motivated.
- Committed to being personally responsible and accountable, for themselves and for their teams
These are only a few of the positive qualities we acknowledge in veterans who make up a significant percentage of our workforce. As a vet myself, we take extreme pride in demonstrating these attributes daily. We try to lead by example and have found that our colleagues often adopt our discipline and work ethic, as well. It has been proven that veterans can influence company culture in a positive way, which ultimately translates to stronger, more unified teams and improved customer outcomes.
Jen Swensson, Chief People Officer for Deepwatch, recognizes the benefits of hiring vets on a team:
“Understanding and executing on long term strategic initiatives while remaining hyper focused on short term tactical goals are key to success within our security operations teams. We see our Veterans leading with these qualities daily. Deepwatch places a high value on diverse experiences and backgrounds and our Veterans are an important component in facilitating a culture of trust, team first, and respect.”
Our vets (proudly pictured above) choose Deepwatch for a reason. One example is Micheal Akinbaleye, a US Army Vet and Security Analyst II at Deepwatch. He notes that working at Deepwatch has been an “incredible opportunity” to serve a “leader in the cybersecurity field”. Micheal notes that he has
“…gained valuable cybersecurity experience that’s enabled me to grow professionally. I have access to a wealth of resources that encourage my success including training, security conferences, and other professional development related activities.”
Vets are natural caretakers who can be found offering guidance and support to both colleagues and leadership. “Never leave a person behind” is a mantra we typically follow. When the opportunity to stand up and do what’s right presents itself, a soldier takes the high road under any circumstance. Suffering in silence is not an option. This moral code of conduct for a vet is essential and equally applies to the conference room as it does to the battlefield.
So if you run into a veteran today, take a moment to give a “hat tip.” Many of us live with, work with, have family members, or know veterans who live in our communities. Without their sacrifices, we would not have the opportunities nor the freedom that we enjoy today. Most veterans are humble and do not consider serving our country a sacrifice. They would explain that they are “just doing what they were called to do.” The phrase, ”Thank you for your service” is a verbal salute and is always appreciated by all active, reserve, and retired or prior service. As a vet who entered the workforce after serving in the military, I am a strong advocate for veterans and recognize firsthand the value they can bring to the workforce.
There are many wonderful organizations that assist veterans with job searches and career transitions. Those who serve in the military are known for being pretty adaptable. A pet phrase we often use with one another is “Sempre Gumby,” which loosely means ”always flexible.” This is code for “we didn’t read the fine print in our contracts” (this is a joke, but probably true). Our flexibility and knowledge allows us to face issues head on and not shy away from challenges. These organizations may also offer internships or entry level positions to those who are making their initial leap to the civilian side.
Institutions and programs such as the Wounded Warrior Cyber Combat Academy, WiCyS Veteran Assistance Program, and Cisco’s collaboration with Syracuse University and Onward to Opportunity offering courses such as Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals (CBROPS) are only a few. I would be remiss in not mentioning our partner Splunk with their contribution via their veteran program.
For more resources, we included below a (non-exhaustive) list of resources available to veterans that either want to switch to the cyber domains or continue their enhancing their technical skills. Please share this with Veterans on your teams and in your life.
- Onward to Opportunity (O2O)
- AWS Exam Reimbursement for US Veterans
- NICCS US-CERT: Veterans Are You Interested In Free Cybersecurity Training?
- SANS VetSuccess Academy
- Veterans Administration VET TEC
- Cisco Veterans Cybersecurity Training
- Cisco Networking Academy for Veterans
- Palo Alto Second Watch
- SalesForce Military
- AWS Transitioning Veterans to Cloud Careers
Benefits of Hiring Veterans
- Special Employer Incentives (SEI)
- Work Opportunity Tax Credit
- How to Get Tax Credits for Hiring Veterans
- Vesna Cottrell
- Tim Stahl