A New Starting Point: Re-booting to Help Transition Veterans

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Going back as far as 2007, the (ISC)² Government Advisory Board (GAB) along with the ISSA-Northern Virginia Chapter Board, have been attempting to develop partnerships with veterans’ organizations in an effort to support veterans transitioning to a civilian career in information security. Despite the good intentions of these two boards and their collective groups of information security professional members ready to get involved, success has yet to be realized. In fact, many veterans’ programs actually turned away this band of willing volunteers.
A recent Washington Post article sheds light as to why there has not been more receptivity to efforts that advocate career progression for soldiers returning from war and provides hope that one day, (ISC)², ISSA and other like-minded professional organizations might be able to make a difference in the lives of our soldiers. According to the Veterans’ Employment Challenges Study, 44% of veterans said they were unprepared for transition to civilian life, with over half of those polled indicating the need for more education and training. Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said, “We don’t train people very well in how to be civilians again”.
In tackling this challenge, we need to re-visit our starting point and re-prioritize our approach. Before we can help an individual with his/her career, we must first relate to them as individuals and as professionals coming from a unique line of work into an entirely new line of work that represents another foreign mission for which they must be adequately prepared.
Veterans who participated in the survey said that they found it difficult to relay their military experience into civilian occupations, especially those with physical and emotional disabilities. Despite the Labor Department’s efforts to make the connection between military skills and civilian equivalents (including factors such as the ability to obtain civilian licenses and certifications for military skills) and the current overhaul of the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), we desperately need new ideas. The hope is that by building awareness of this issue, both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations will step up and offer solutions and support that accurately align with the transition needs of soldiers returning from war.
Currently, the (ISC)² National Capital Region Chapter has seen some success by partnering with emerging non-profit programs such as Wounded Warrior Cyber Combat Academy and Warrior to Cyber Warrior. Both programs specialize in the training of select veterans in information technology and cybersecurity skills accompanied by training in life skills such as resume writing, budgeting and time management. Admittedly, these types of programs only scratch the surface of the need but at the same time, provide a much-needed bridge between military service and the civilian workplace. If you are aware of other organizations that are currently recognizing a measure of success in supporting our veterans’ transition into the information security workforce, please share the information by commenting below. As information security professionals who enjoy the rewards of a growing and challenging career field, we need to do all we can to help those who have secured our nation on the battlefields.
Marc H. Noble, EWB Member and (ISC)² Director of Government Affairs, was lead author of this peer-reviewed post


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