Military Vets Need Experiences to Help Choose the Right Path

Today's environment for US Military Veterans is a unique one. Even after over a decade of continuous war in Iraq, Afghanistan and dangerous global hotspots, public sentiment for our veterans remain extremely positive and supportive.

Today's environment for US Military Veterans is a unique one. Even after over a decade of continuous war in Iraq, Afghanistan and dangerous global hotspots, public sentiment for our veterans remain extremely positive and supportive. Through charitable events and organizations, sporting events, and daily interactions on the street, Military Veterans today return to an atmosphere of genuine respect and appreciation, often punctuated by a heartfelt "Thank you for your service". However, despite these sentiments, and the support given to those veterans who need additional assistance because of service related injuries or illness, many military veterans still are not as engaged in the business community to the extent that they able. Clearly, military veterans should be a larger and more visible part of our business, and more specifically technology, communities.

Today's veterans are a diverse, inclusive, highly motivated, trained and skilled group of men and women that immediately bring value immediately to technology businesses. They are driven, responsible, problem-solving leaders who know how to focus on difficult tasks under time pressure in high risk environments. They are collaborative learners with great physical and intellectual capacity, a strong moral compass and a sense of personal responsibility. Still, despite their skills and experience, they are often under-represented in important industries, misunderstood in their skills and abilities, and underemployed in jobs when they could be building careers. While there are a number of significant, but not insurmountable, reasons for this problem, I'm going to focus in now on just one - how to gain some practical work experience to properly choose the next step in the post-military journey and break into the technology industry.

When separating from the military, whether officer or enlisted, most veterans choose first between more education and getting started in a new career. For veterans choosing a career in business, one of the most frequent decisions is between going to school for an undergraduate or graduate business degree, getting a job, or starting a business. Each decision is contains a different uncertainty. While many went into the military to pay for education as well as serving their country, the education landscape today is highly uncertain and rapidly changing. Learners must make sure they are getting great value for their educational dollar. Other veterans choose to get a job and get their post-military life started. However, they have limited exposure to the opportunities for which they are well suited, and lack the network that can inform them about skills needed to access the available opportunities. Since both employers and job seekers generally do a poor job in translating military experience into civilian roles, both sides lose out on or misplace talent leading to sub-optimal experiences. Entrepreneurship has often been the answer for military veterans, however, in an environment where entrepreneurship curriculum is the hottest area at most major business schools, military veterans are often drastically under-represented both as a percentage of the population and of the historical average of previous generations of veterans. Vets have tough decisions and seemingly not enough decision support…so what are we to do?

We need more military veteran entrepreneurs and technology industry leaders. One easy way to start is to help veterans gain practical experience while they are in the process of making their next career decision. This experience will help them better know their worth in the marketplace, and help them translate their military experience into something well understood by their civilian colleagues. I've uncovered a number of organizations that aim to help veterans solve this problem. Some of them include:

Guide-On - helping veterans translate their military experience into a civilian resume that employers will understand

Victory Media - with assets like and, this outstanding media enterprise helps military veterans and their families find their way in new and challenging environments

Commit Foundation - Creating tailored transition solutions for top Veteran talent across the nation engaging with small touch, high impact workshops and 1-on-1 transition assistance programs.

Vet Tech Trek - helping veterans in their families transition into technology companies by gaining exposure and experience

Cyber Warrior Network - clarifying and translating the cyber security skills of military veterans to empower their pursuit of cyber security careers

Work for Warriors - Helping California's military veterans find jobs, gain experience and improve their resumes for broad areas of employment

Vets In Tech - delivering programming and community to help veterans engage in the national technology ecosystem through Education, Entrepreneurship and Employment

These are some great organizations, but they are just a start…just scratching the surface on where we need to go. Below, I suggest a few next steps for that we can do.

If you are an employer and want to contribute to helping veterans get into the careers they deserve, I'd like to talk and discuss best practices with you. If you are or know of, an organization doing this type of work with veterans, I'd love to hear about them so we can learn what they are doing, how they intend to scale, and showcase them in upcoming posts and media stories about military veterans and organizations doing great things in the business community. Most importantly, if you are, or are soon to be, a veteran and have experienced this or are about to engage in this journey, I'd love to hear your story. I seek to learn more about your stories, understand how we can better serve you, and explore options to help you gain work experience that can help you through your transition. I've uncovered some specific opportunities for people to gain experience in technology, while they are still making their decisions on career directions and trying to figure out their next career move. Right now, I'm focused on working with people seeking to enter technology sales or cybersecurity fields. Please connect here or send an email to to learn more.

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Phil Dillard

Today's environment for US Military Veterans is a unique one. Even after over a decade of continuous war in Iraq, Afghanistan and dangerous global hotspots, public sentiment for our veterans remain extremely positive and supportive.

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