IT Industry Steps Up Veteran Training Programs

Tens of thousands of veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars are looking for careers that will give them the lifestyle they shed blood to protect. The tech community is stepping up with more programs and support to ensure they have an opportunity to realize the American dream.

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veteransTens of thousands of American servicemen and women are returning to the home front, shedding their uniforms and arms in favor of textbooks and classrooms. The security they seek is education that will provide them a career for the lifestyles they spent their blood defending. And the tech community is answering their call by providing to support veterans seeking training and careers in IT.

Microsoft Corp. last week launched the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy, a 16-week course to prepare veterans for careers in application development, software engineering and IT project management. The program was developed as a pilot with Saint Martin’s University at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington state, and will expand in 2014 to military installations and universities in California and Texas.

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“Unemployment rates are higher among veterans because it’s not always easy for service members to understand where their skills apply outside the military,” said Joint Base Lewis-McChord commander H. Charles Hodges Jr. “This program cuts through the uncertainty and helps service members transition into their next missions in the civilian workforce.”

The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy is part of several programs sponsored by Microsoft to provide training, education and job counseling to veterans.

“American service members possess the drive, self-discipline and problem-solving skills that are essential for the technology industry,” said Microsoft Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith. “The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy is a bridge between one great career -- serving in the U.S. military -- and another, creating technologies that improve lives.”

Managed services vendor Continuum last week made a $50,000 donation through its Continuum Veterans Foundation to Atlanta-based Hire Heroes USA, an organization dedicated to creating career opportunities for veterans and their spouses.

“Many veterans are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan to an economy still recovering, but there are many job opportunities in the IT industry well suited to both veterans and U.S. businesses,” said Continuum CEO Michael George. “In many cases, the private sector does not fully understand the vast technical experience as well as leadership, teamwork and commitment qualities that our veterans gain in the military.”

Today, distributor Ingram Micro is holding a veterans celebration in its Buffalo office to honor employees that served in the military. As part of the recognition, Ingram Micro is donating $2,013 each to Veterans Affairs Western New York Homeless Veterans, which provides housing and work counseling to veterans, and Western New York Heroes, which provides support to disabled veterans and their families.

"At Ingram Micro, we work hard to create a culture that's inclusive of all life experiences, and this Veterans Day, we're grateful to have the opportunity to recognize and thank the veterans among our employees and community for their service," said Paul Bay, senior executive vice president and president, Ingram Micro North America.

And channel trade association CompTIA announced that its Troops to Tech training program has reached a new milestone since its founding in 2011, with more than 16,000 former servicemen and woman having earned more than 22,000 CompTIA technical certifications.

“Veteran’s Day reminds us how important it is to support our nation’s veterans as they transition from active duty to civilian life,” said CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux. “Critical to this transition are creating opportunities for veterans to find meaningful employment in careers that offer long-term options for advancement and growth.”

Since 2001, more than 2 million American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen have been deployed overseas in the combat zones of Iraq, Afghanistan and other hostile regions. In Iraq and Afghanistan alone, the U.S. military has suffered more than 6,700 combat deaths and nearly 51,000 wounded. To put that in perspective, those donning the uniform represent roughly a half on a percent of the U.S. population.

As is always the case in war, so few give so much for so many in near silence. They’ve seen horrors worse than most Americans' hell. They’ve fought though the heat and cold, watched friends and comrades fall to volleys of fire, and lived under the continuous threat that their time could come without a moment’s notice. And while they’re removed from the battlefield, the memories and reflexes don’t dissipate easily.

These training programs are more than just a sampling of the numerous programs sponsored by the tech industry and channel to support veterans’ transition to civilian life; this is more than just trying to infuse the industry with newly minted engineers and technicians; this is a recognition of the service and sacrifice made by those who don the uniform in the name of country and liberty.


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