As Americans, it’s no secret that we love our military men and women. A few times a year, we come out en masse to thank our active duty military or veterans for their service. Despite this, there are a number of myths about veterans that circulate in our culture.
In the United States, there are 1.4 million people in the military and an additional 22 million more veterans. That’s a sizeable population of dedicated people who have made a tremendous commitment to their country only to sometimes face a backlash born of misunderstandings in the civilian world.
Veterans are sometimes put in a box by those who don’t understand and labeled as villains, victims, or vindicators. Those three categories sweep aside the broad spectrum of veteran experiences and ignore everything veterans have to offer as complex individuals with unique circumstances.
With that in mind, here are the top seven misconceptions that are harmful to veterans, the truth behind the men and women in uniform, and how everyone can fight these myths. Thank you to the LeaderQuest staff and students who have served in the military and shared their experience with us for this piece.
1. All Veterans Have PTSD
“I think one of the most unique situations I was in was when my 18-year-old daughter was giving a report in her high school class that covered my time in the military.
As many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
11% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
20% of Iraqi war veterans
To sum up, don’t assume that if a person is a vet they have PTSD because it’s simply not true. If someone does tell you they’re suffering from PTSD, understand that they’re trusting you with something important and often misunderstood. That brings us to our next big myth about veterans.
2. PTSD Makes Veterans Unpredictable and Violent
“One of the misconceptions is that we all have PTSD. That we’re all going to suddenly explode someday. Or they have a misconception of what PTSD is . . . popular media oftentimes shades people with military service and what they’ve done and what they’ve been through.”
~ James Gross, U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Staff
Yes, this is such an important issue that it gets two entries. Merely saying the word PTSD is sure to conjure up images of unbalanced vets about to explode in violent, unpredictable ways. However, this characterization is a gross misrepresentation of the real disorder.
“PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.”
What you might not know is that PTSD affects a multitude of people who experience trauma, not just those in the military. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of that event, having more negative beliefs because of the trauma, and feeling keyed up/jittery. People with PTSD may have other problems including:
Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
Depression or anxiety
Drinking or drug problems
Physical symptoms or chronic pain
Relationship problems, including divorce
Even for the population that is affected by this, it’s more likely to cause problems for the sufferer than the people around them. Violence is only prevalent in about 7.5% for PTSD sufferers in the U.S. population and 19.5% in post-9/11 veterans. While that is a little higher, it’s important to note that post-9/11 vets are younger (median age = 34) which meaning they’ve got a higher risk of violence anyway.
One of the biggest problems with this misconception is that it often leads to the idea that veterans with PTSD can’t be trusted with firearms. This simply isn’t true. This can be especially harmful because it’s a barrier for veterans who do suffer from PTSD and want to seek treatment. Many veterans chose not to seek treatment in part due to fear that their guns will be taken away. This can be another unnecessary barrier for people who already have to navigate a difficult mental health system to get help.
Next time you hear someone speaking with authority on how PTSD makes veterans violent, you’ll have the knowledge to step in and explain what’s really going on.
3. Veterans Don’t Think For Themselves
“When people think of a soldier obeying orders, they’re thinking of orders like ‘drop and give me fifty’ that they’ve seen in movies and on TV. In reality, those orders are more likely to be a complicated series of dynamic objectives, any or all of which can and will change as soon as plans meet reality.”
We’ve all heard the stereotype. The vet who’s a mindless drone, completely unable to think for herself. While it’s true that basic training is designed to get those that enter the military putting the good of the group first and understanding the importance of obedience, the idea that veterans don’t have original thoughts is untrue and offensive.
Veterans are put into incredibly complex situations and have to think on their feet. Each unit has its own personality which comes out in unique ways, and getting the job done is most important above all else. This means that veterans are often forced into situations where creative thinking isn’t just good, it’s essential.
So, got a complex problem you’re not sure how to fix? Call on a vet for help. You’ll be glad you did.
4. Female Veterans Don’t Exist/Don’t Do Very Much
“The simple fact that I am a veteran. They assume my husband is a veteran but are shocked that I am too.”
Women were officially allowed to serve in the military since the last two years of WWI, mostly as nurses, spies, and support staff, and slowly took on more duties through WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War
In 1976, the first women were allowed to enroll in service academies like Westpoint, and during the ’90s women were allowed to fly on combat missions, serve on combat ships, and were deployed to areas like the Persian Gulf. In the last two decades, women have served in more and more positions and Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman awarded the Silver Star for combat action.
The lack of awareness of female veterans is especially problematic because of the issues women have to deal with in post-service life. Female veterans are two to four times as likely as their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness and make up the fastest-growing share of homeless vets. Between 20,000 and 40,000 are homeless. Most, especially those with kids or histories of trauma, couch-surf with friends and relatives as opposed to going to shelters.
So the next time someone asks, “but do women really serve in the military?” feel free to educate them on how much women have contributed to the U.S. military.
5. Vets Are Less Skilled/Able Than Their Civilian Counterparts
In a market with such a strong emphasis on degrees, there are times when veterans are looked down upon simply because of their lack of job experience outside of the military. If you had a job fixing aircraft or defusing roadside bombs in the military, there might not be a lot of direct crossover in your skillset.
Veterans often make great employees because they’re honest, notoriously hard workers, candid, and they know how to get things done. The truth is, you’re probably already working alongside great vets right now. Be sure to give them their due and call out their hard work.
6. Some Military Branches are Lesser/Vets Are All the Same
“From an Army point of view, they look at us like, ‘You were in the Army? That’s it?’”
-U.S. Army, LeaderQuest Student
It’s no secret that the different branches of the military like to poke fun at each other, but in the civilian world, certain branches of the military are looked down upon by some. Whether they make fun of the Army,National Guard, or the Air Force, there’s no short supply of shade to be thrown around.
In the end, serving in the military is a huge commitment. Each branch is different because it serves a specific purpose, but each branch also gives members the same loyalty, ability to operate under high-pressure situations, and willingness to do what’s best for the group and get things done.
“I thought I could get a job at the drop of a hat because I was told everyone wanted to hire military. I was unemployed for 6-weeks and was throwing my resume at anything and everything.”
-Aaron Kiewicz, U.S. National Guard, LeaderQuest Staff
Transitioning is never easy. There’s the culture shock to navigate and the sudden realization that you no longer have every hour of your day planned out for you. Perhaps the single biggest fear veterans have to deal with is going from a steady paycheck to an uncertain future for them and their families. Issues like having skills that don’t translate, concern for upcoming deployments, and being swayed by negative stereotypes of veterans, can keep veterans out of jobs they might otherwise excel in. On top of that, going from a culture that uses the f-word in excess to an office environment can be difficult.
Certifications are also becoming an increasingly viable option for vets who need to demonstrate their abilities to get that first employer to take a chance on them. That’s why cyber security and other IT fields are becoming an increasingly attractive option for vets.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to shattering these misconceptions. The men and women of our armed forces have done so much for us. By disarming these myths that can keep vets from jobs where they excel we take the first step in creating a workforce that is open and accepting of veterans. Not to mention the fact that vets are kick-ass workers, and who among us couldn’t use a few more of those on staff? It’s just common sense, really.
The students we have the pleasure to serve at LeaderQuest come from all walks of life. Some are industry experts with a decade of experience while some are brand new, entering the world of IT for the first time.
We welcome people straight out of the military and straight out of high schools alongside those who haven’t been back to school in years. Though they all have different journeys, we are proud of all of them.
Now, we’d like to highlight three student success stories from those who came to LeaderQuest, conquered their classes, and got hired. This is the story of three journeys of students who enrolled at LeaderQuest.
Ken Argenbright – from U.S. Air Force to NOC Technician
Transitioning Out of the Air Force
During his 9 years in the Air Force, Ken Argenbright served as an F22 Avionics Specialist. As he prepared to transition back into the civilian world he was nervous but excited. He wasn’t sure if he needed more schooling and realized, for the first time in years, he had to create his own sense of purpose.
“It’s tough because you’re used to the military you have a mission you’re after and a team you’re already working with so you have a good idea of where your life is going and what’s the next step. When you get out, all of that’s kind of out the window. Now it’s up to you to make your own mission or find something worth putting your time into. It’s a little discouraging at first to try and make those own calls yourself and figure out what’s important.”
After initially considering a master’s degree in cyber security, Ken changed his mind when he heard from LeaderQuest.
Taking Classes & Getting Certified!
After getting the opportunity to tour the facility and do a little more research, it was clear that it was a professional environment with lots to offer.
“Very quick responses, very professional atmosphere, very service oriented,” he said, “They’re here to help and they do a job at it.”
Since Ken had a military background and active security clearance, the staff at LeaderQuest helped Ken get on a path that would get him into cyber security, while providing the foundation of IT knowledge he needed to start his career.
Ken found the instructors to be extremely knowledgeable and the coursework thorough and comprehensive. That included a wealth of supplemental materials and lab simulations that allowed the user to practice cyber security techniques virtually. It was an environment he liked.
“[It’s] not like super strict school atmosphere it was relaxed,” he said, “I could make dad jokes and they were okay with it . . . even the instructor did some of his own jokes, so that helps.”
Before long, it was time to take the exam. Ken passed his ITIL test with flying colors while still working on his classes for A+, Network+, and Security+. However, there was a surprise in store before he’d even finished his classes.
Transitions can be rough and that was definitely the case for Tylyr Brown, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
After serving as a 3531 Motor D Operator, and completing an apprenticeship to be a diesel mechanic in the military, he returned home and faced a layoff right before the holidays. During that time, he took a job at a dry cleaner to make ends meet and found himself struggling and missing his military service.
“I missed my job and I missed the team environment we had there,” Tylyr said, “you don’t see that very much in the civilian world anymore. Your team was like your family.”
With a four-year-old son and wife who needed him, as well as some community college under his belt, Tylyr needed a change for a successful career. That’s where LeaderQuest came in.
“I was trying to get out of that as fast as I could,” Tylyr said, “As soon as I heard from LeaderQuest here I jumped at the opportunity.”
Getting in Touch with LeaderQuest
After getting into classes, it didn’t take Tylyr long to rekindle his love of IT. Taking classes full-time, he found himself awash in study materials and ready to get his career on track.
“I love IT. I love computers. I love breaking them up, taking them apart, putting them back together. Going back through everything and refreshing my memory on some things and relearning wireless access points and different ports and all the things I didn’t know clearly, so I know and they’re stuck in my head, definitely prepared me for the future.”
Tylyr set out on a path that included a few cyber security classes and went after certifications including CompTIA A+, ITIL, Network+, Security+, the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and the EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND). He was surprised by the depth of coverage each topic got, despite the short runtime.
“[The instructor] explained things that, I went to college for two years, and even I didn’t know,” Tylyr said.
More than that, he found in LeaderQuest the support system he’d been searching for since he left the military: an extremely welcoming and warm environment.
“It was like being part of a family,” he said, “they’re very comforting and very caring people here.”
Employed and Looking Forward
With two classes still to finish, Tylyr decided it was time to send out resumes. When he did, he was pleased to find that he got a job offer as a Tier I Tech. Ultimately, he said taking LeaderQuest classes is what allowed him to do it.
“I didn’t feel confident enough when applying for jobs to apply for IT jobs until LeaderQuest. Being able to do put LeaderQuest on my resume and that I’ve gotten these courses completed and that I was doing more schooling gave me the confidence to go out there and search for an IT job somewhere.”
With two classes to finish at night, Tylyr is ready to take on the future in what is sure to be a long and exciting IT career.
“I owe LeaderQuest my career,” he said.
Learn more about the cyber security program Tylyr took.
Mitch Ross’ story begins in one of the worst ways any employment story can: a layoff with a total of eleven months out of work. Mitch needed a change.
He reached out to a Colorado workforce center and worked through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program which helps out of work individuals retool. He knew he wanted to work in either cyber security or cloud computing and, as part of WIOA, Mitch was required to evaluate at least three different training programs. He chose LeaderQuest because of the content, ability to provide virtual training, and the sense of understanding he formed with the counselor.
“I felt comfortable and felt confident I could move forward and be successful here,” he said. “The counselor really tried to fit my needs, asked my direction, looked at my history, what I wanted to do going forward, and suggested the cyber security program that I went through.”
Cyber Security Classes and More
After he made the decision to take most of his classes virtually, the LeaderQuest staff helped Mitch get set up on the live platform and then he was ready to learn.
Mitch took three classes, CompTIA Security+, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker, and the EC-Council Certified Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI). Each class had a different instructor and each was taken online though through a live format.
Most helpful of all was the library full of materials Mitch had access to thanks to the instructor. In addition to using this wealth of material to take the exam, he also found it useful in his day to day life working in cyber security.
“I learned a lot about things I had previously just touched,” he said.
A New Position with Coalfire Systems
Every timeMitch passed a new certification, he would put it up on his LinkedIn Profile. One day, that really paid off. The cyber security firm Coalfire Systems, seeing his certifications, actually reached out to Mitch and sought him out.
“As I was working through my third certification we were talking about and negotiating a job,” he said.
Before long, he was officially offered a job and joined the Coalfire team in February of 2017 as a Senior Security Consultant. Mitch finished his certifications and today serves as an incredibly skilled cyber security expert specializing in cyber engineering and architecture for the companies Coalfire Systems serves.
“LeaderQuest has had a very positive impact on my career and helped me get on a brand new path that has really made me more excited, or restored my excitement, in IT,” Mitch said, “If you’re looking to retool, or if you’re just looking to further your career in a specific direction with a new certification, this is an extremely good path and LeaderQuest will help you greatly do that. Training will help you get there faster.”
Our classes are all lead by industry experts with years of experience and offered at night or during the day in an on-campus or online format. In addition to getting you trained, we also offer career services and can put you in touch with local employers.
If you’re thinking about a career in IT, don’t wait. Invest in your future today!
Transitioning out of the military can seem like a daunting undertaking. Leaving behind the world you’ve known for the 9-5 workday is bound to cause anxiety. Don’t worry! Many of the skills you’ve gained in the military can help you get hired and start a great IT career in the civilian world. In fact, a tech job is the perfect next step for many veterans, especially if you’re tired of being on your feet.
It may seem hard to get your foot in the door to the IT world with no experience. However, certifications get you the skills you need in a matter of months or even weeks. That’s way less time than a degree. If you’re interested in IT careers, you’ve come to the right place.
Check out our list of tech jobs that are great for transitioning veterans. Keep reading for salaries, job titles, and more information for some of the most relevant computer jobs that will ensure your success in the next stage of your life.
Information Security Analyst
Why It’s Ideal
If you’ve got a security clearance, this may be the perfect role for you to jump into because clearance gives you a huge head start to get hired! Right now, the Department of Defense (DoD) has made securing the nation’s information systems a top priority, especially when it comes to national defense. For this reason, DoD contractors are required to have baseline certifications that ensure they know how to properly handle secure information. On top of this, many of these companies are run by veterans and know the value of bringing them on board.
In 2016, Information Security Analysts had a median salary of $92,600. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this role is expected to grow around 28% from 2016 to 2026. This is much faster than average for all industries (6%).
What You’d Do
At a basic level, information security analysts plan and implement security features for computer systems and networks. In practice, these roles can have a huge variety of daily tasks. For more information, check out our interview with Jason Thompson, who works as a Data Systems Security Specialist at one of the three largest banks in the US.
Qualifications You’ll Need
A bachelor’s degree in a computer or information science helps for this career, but it isn’t required. For many positions, all you really need is a few certifications. If you’re going to work for the DoD, they have a list of certifications that will allow you to fulfill the requirements needed to get into the information security world. The most important certification isCompTIA’s Security+. This foundational certification will teach you basic computer and network security skills. When you’re looking to building on this, you’ll want to add the EC-Council’s Certified Network Defender (CND) to your toolkit, enabling you to understand vulnerabilities in your systems and how to protect them. If you’re looking for a capstone achievement, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) will show employers that you understand information security backward and forward.
Also called help-desk technicians, this is a great place to get started in the IT industry. If you worked with computers during your service, you may already know many of the skills you’ll need to get hired as a Computer Support Specialist. This is an ideal place to start because you don’t need much education to be able to apply, but it can offer excellent pay.
After starting at the help desk, you can work your way up as an IT professional. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, don’t worry. It only takes one or two years in a position like this to create a great foundation for future career growth.
In 2016, this job had a median salary of $52,160. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this role has an expected growth rate of 10% from 2016 to 2026, faster than average (6%) for all industries.
What You’d Do
As a Computer Support Specialist, you’ll install, configure, and maintain computers/networks to ensure that your business operates smoothly. You’ll also assist users to keep their computers working properly and help them get the most out of their systems. Most exciting of all, you’ll have a hand in security for the computers and networks you take care of and will play a vital role in preventing cyber attacks.
Qualifications You’ll Need
To get started, all you’ll need is a few basic certifications to stand out from the crowd. The first is the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world. Next, getting your CompTIA A+ certification will show employers that you can build and configure personal computers for office use. Achieving your CompTIA Network+ will give you the skills you need to build networks and connect systems to them. Finally, getting CompTIA Security+ completes the picture with one of the most in-demand certifications available today. With the frequency of cyber attacks growing by the hour, security has become an essential concern for all businesses.
Network Support is highly in demand right now, making it easier to get hired and offering great job security once you do land the gig. As more and more companies go digital, and as new companies spring up all over, networking needs aren’t going anywhere. Because this role is so specialized, and the CCNA certification is so challenging, you can be sure you’ll have an abundance of job opportunities in any metropolitan area. You can start off as a support specialist and soon advance your career as a network admin or network architect.
Network Support Specialists are experts in all things network related. You’d be responsible for selecting and installing cabling, routers, and switches to help create a network that meets the needs of the business or organization.
Qualifications You’ll Need
To excel in this position, you’ll want to get your CompTIA Security+ and Network+ certifications, which we detailed in the Computer Support Specialist listing. Once again, Network+ forms the foundation of your knowledge while Security+ will teach you everything you need to know about building secure networks that protect your employer’s assets. However, the most important certification for this role is your Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing & Switching. This certification is your golden ticket in the world of networking. It’s hard to achieve, but it will qualify you to get started in this growing industry.
As a transitioning veteran, you’re looking for the best place to invest your time and education to ensure a great career for yourself. To that end, you’d be hard-pressed to find industries that are growing faster than cyber security and information technology.
Why is that? Simple. Companies are struggling to keep up with the rising threat of cyber crime due to one major problem: they can’t find enough qualified candidates. Cyber security specialists are so in demand that the number of open positions has outstripped the number of qualified applicants by as much as 2 to 1 in some industries. About one-third of information security jobs require a cyber security certification, compared to 23 percent of all IT jobs.
The solution is simple! Get certified and get the tech job you really want. At LeaderQuest, we offer flexible scheduling that works best for your current situation and learning style. You can take classes online, on campus, during the day, or at night.
Many of our classes last between 5-15 days, so you can get certified and back into the workforce as quickly as possible. As an organization with a long time commitment to veterans, many of our staff have been there and know the challenges that come with the transition. They’ll help you navigate your GI Bill®, make the best of your benefits, and get you equipped for a brand new career.
There’s never been a better time to get certified and enter the IT workforce in the computer technology career of your choice. Don’t wait to get your future started. Reach out and contact us today!
The day-to-day of the military and the daily grind of Corporate America are worlds apart. Worlds.
They resemble each other in no way possible, yet once you’ve gotten your discharge papers from the military, it sometimes can seem like you’re expected to make the military to civilian transition and just jump into the corporate world head first, figuring out how to swim in the heat of the moment.
It doesn’t sound easy, but even still, it’s much easier said than done.
Clearly, starting out in an entry-level position is almost a necessity… not only because of the skills you need to learn that you don’t have yet, but also so you can start out in a less threatening role while you get your bearings in a totally different work environment than what you’ve ever been used to.
And for veterans interested in some of the top jobs for veterans in IT, that means a pretty conscious choice between a few deliberate starting points you can use as a launch pad for a successful life-long post-military IT career. (You know…once you learn how to swim among those corporate sharks.)
Taking examples from GS4, a company with its hands in security and information technology whose workforce is around 1/4 veterans, here are some of the top job for veterans to pursue when making the military to civilian transition into the workforce:
1. Support Specialist, Technical Support with Security
This is perhaps the most popular starting point for many veterans wishing to pursue an IT career. The reason it is one of the top jobs for veterans is that the required IT certifications to qualify for entry-level IT careers in this field are also the certifications required to be DOD 8570 compliant – which can lead to some of the best government cybersecurity IT careers! Also, they are almost always covered by GI Bill® and Post 9/11 education benefits. LeaderQuest’s Computer User Support Specialist IT training program is only 23 days and will prepare you for four different DOD 8570 compliant certifications in only 23 days!
Earning the base ITIL and CompTIA IT certifications will help you get your foot in the door quickly and allow you to get experience while pursuing your long term IT education and career goals.
2. Tech Compliance
As an entry-level compliance officer, you get your hands on policy creation, implementation, and procedures to make sure the entity you’re working for stays within important compliance guidelines.
While some companies will require a Bachelor’s Degree for such a position, others are more concerned with experience, and still others simply just want you to have the knowledge you need to back yourself up.
A training like our Network Security Specialist IT Training is comprehensive and will give you’ll the knowledge you need to get in on the ground level so you can start climbing your way up the ladder.
3. Network Technician / Network Administrator
Cisco® products provide a network that can securely and reliably handle all types of traffic, throughout the entire network, over virtually any media, while providing consistent service delivery to all users. Because of this, Cisco products are used across the world and it is essential for anyone serious about network administration to be knowledgeable and experienced in Cisco. CCNA is by far the most popular IT certification for Cisco products and is highly sought after by many companies. CCNA Training and Certification can happen in as little as 10 days and put you on the road to advanced level IT careers.
4. Network Control Center Operator
Admittedly, this may not be the most glamorous of entry-level positions for IT careers, but it is something, and it does get you working under the people whose jobs you want someday.
You’re essentially working as a call center help specialist, but with a little deeper responsibility in solving security-based technical problems.
The great thing about it, though, is that it doesn’t require anything higher than a high school diploma and conversational English skills to land the job… meaning it’s one that you could probably land right away without having to worry about who’s paying your bills while you’re going to school.
5. Transition & Management Training for Veterans
While this is not specifically an IT career, if you can get accepted into a position like this, it can be one of your best bets for getting your foot in the door at some of the most successful companies in the country…setting you up for a great career path in your field of choice until retirement.
GE, for example, has a transition assistance workshop created specifically for United States veterans moving out of the military and into the corporate workforce. (It’s called JOLP – Junior Officer Leadership Program.)
While they’re not alwayshiring for IT positions into this program, it’s worth checking regularly to see if they are.
Because GE is such a large company, it’s only natural that they’ll have some IT support roles, and if you get accepted into their program, you’ll rotate around to different departments so you can dig your hands into many aspects of business (like finance, leadership, organization, and six sigma quality), giving you a deeper understanding of the business world that’ll only help your career in the best ways possible.
And though GE, in particular, does require a Bachelor’s degree to get into their program, (you could definitely use your Post 9/11 Benefit to help pay for that), some other programs may be more flexible on educational prerequisites.
The Most Important Step for Military to Civilian Transition… Getting Your Foot in the Door
One of the most difficult things for transitioning veterans entering the corporate world is going from a position of authority and respect to starting out at the bottom of the ladder once again.
It can seem a little de-motivating at first, but with the discipline, motivation, and pure work ethic that you learned in the military, you’ll be able to learn, work hard, and study towards higher-level IT certifications, meaning that you won’t be at the bottom of the ladder for long!
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).