Military vets excel in IT, companies find

Hiring veterans isn't just the patriotic thing to do, these companies say -- it's very good for the IT talent pool.

veterans in IT
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7 great companies that hire veterans into IT

To commemorate Veteran's Day 2014, Computerworld is honoring a few good companies that have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their commitment to hire veterans into IT and other business positions. The seven firms profiled here are known for treating their workers right; all were named to Computerworld's 100 Best Places to Work in IT list for 2014.

They're also all members of 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition founded in early 2011 by JPMorgan Chase. The goal of the mission -- which initially encompassed 10 other organizations, including high-tech firms such as Cisco, AT&T, Verizon and EMC -- was to collectively hire 100,000 U.S. veterans into the private sector by the year 2020.

The mission, which now counts as members some 170 companies in every line of business, surpassed that goal by the end of 2013, seven years early, and promptly re-upped with a pledge to now hire 200,000 veterans by 2020. The latest statistics, released yesterday, show the 100,000 Jobs Mission has hired 190,046 veterans as of Sept. 30, 2014.

The military represents "a tremendous talent pool that a lot of companies aren't tapping into," says Tony Odierno, vice president of military and veteran affairs at JPMorgan Chase. "For technology specifically, IT and cybersecurity are major focuses in the military, so you have a lot of service members coming out with those kinds of skills."

Military tech experts may not have civilian certifications or experience in a civilian setting, but companies able to look past that are able to gain access to top talent and leadership, says Odierno, a veteran himself.

To assist returning veterans in getting those civilian credentials, including IT certifications, JPMorgan Chase funds the Veterans Career Transition Program, which is part of Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families. The program offers a Tech Track learning and certification path that offers training in some 30 industry certifications free of charge to post-9/11 vets, according to Odierno.

Read on to hear from veterans now working in IT, and their managers, at several of these companies, then browse our list of other firms that are both Best Places to Work in IT and 100,000 Jobs Mission members.

Veterans at USAA
USAA (One-Time Use)


Info for veterans:

The details: USAA is committed to hiring at least 30% of its workforce from the military. Former service members and their spouses are considered first in the vetting process for open positions, and, once hired, can take advantage of a variety of mentoring and support programs to keep their skills and career on track. A separate career-development program aims to transition junior military officers into the organization and help them work towards potential leadership positions at USAA.

A veteran's perspective: "On paper, veterans' job skills might not seem like an exact fit [with corporate requirements], but we are quick learners and highly adaptable," says former Air Force captain Elizabeth D'Angelo (second row, left, in the above photo of veterans at USAA). "We share the same core values, and we work until the mission is complete," says D'Angelo, currently a software developer and Integrator at USAA.

IT's take: "Veterans possess the drive, self-discipline and problem-solving skills that are essential for working as an IT professional," says Jim Kuhn, SVP of USAA's project delivery group. "Our VetFIT program is a bridge between one great career -- serving in the U.S. military -- and another -- developing and maintaining software for USAA."

Billie Chock from General Mills
Billie Chock

General Mills

Info for veterans:

The details: General Mills has won multiple awards from veterans' groups for its multifaceted support of transitioning military and their families. The company delivers benefits, policies and resources to support the needs of its veteran employees through its Veterans Network, an internal affinity network for veterans and friends of the military that focuses on service, leadership, recruiting and retention. The company's Veterans Club connects employees who want to support veterans with community outreach and service projects.

A veteran's perspective: "While serving in the United States Marine Corps, I was often challenged with the need to adjust plans frequently and consider creative action plans with limited resources -- which is also an especially valuable skill in IT," says former Sgt. Billie Chock, solutions manager at General Mills. "Technology is continually evolving, which means we must keep an open and sharp mind to look for new ways of delivering results and adjusting to the situation at hand. My military experience has provided me with the ability to remain flexible and resourceful."

The corporate take: "We believe that we can strengthen our company and community by attracting and retaining talented veterans and the valuable skills and experiences they offer," says Ken Charles, vice president of global inclusion and staffing for General Mills. "And we are proud to support our employees who are actively serving our country."

Ken Stewart at Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen Hamilton (One-Time Use)

Booz Allen Hamilton

Info for veterans:

The details: With a client list that includes the U.S. Department of Defense, four branches of the military and the Department of Homeland Security, Booz Allen has multiple opportunities to place veterans in compatible consulting relationships. The company offers online webinars to assist returning military with resumes and job applications, and maintains a transitioning military recruiting page on LinkedIn. Once hired, employees can tap Booz Allen's Armed Services Forum for support, camaraderie and veteran-specific resources.

A veteran's perspective: "As an intelligence professional specializing in communications and cybersecurity, the military provided me with extensive training in computer network operations, both offensive and defensive," says Ken Stewart, an associate in Booz Allen's Defense & Intelligence Group/Cyber Account Group. As a civilian, he's been able to leverage that experience to help Booz Allen's military and non-government clients secure their communications and data networks, according to Stewart, who served in the Air Force for 21 years before retiring with the rank of senior master sergeant.

IT's take: "One great thing about hiring veterans is they bring a sense of urgency to the client's mission. Our clients' IT and cyber-related challenges don't just happen when and where it's convenient, and they're usually hard," says Michael Miller, a senior associate in Booz Allen's Defense & Intelligence Group/Cyber Account Group in San Antonio, Texas. "You can count on veterans to work hard as a team whenever and wherever they need to in order to make sure those challenges get resolved," says Miller, a veteran himself.

Chris Hamilton, Ralph Crow and Eric Wade at HCA
HCA (One-Time Use)


Info for veterans:

The details: Nashville-based HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) was ranked as a Top 100 Military Friendly employer for 2014 by independent ranking organization Victory Media. The company provides full salary for active-duty employees as well as continued medical and life insurance and the promise of a similar salaried position upon return.

A veteran's perspective: "The combination of IT and veterans is beneficial to HCA because veterans are mentally trained to 'make it happen' to complete their mission," says Chris Hamilton (shown above, in photo at left), a senior technician at HCA's Summit Medical Center, TriStar Division, in Hermitage, Tenn. That commitment spurs him to pursue "a satisfactory resolution according to HCA's code of conduct and our IT standards for whatever tasks, projects or issues come our way," says Hamilton, who spent a year deployed in Afghanistan and is currently a staff sergeant with the National Guard.

Another veteran's perspective: "After 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps, six years enlisted and 14 years as an officer, I couldn't imagine a post-military career in anything other than healthcare," says Ralph Crow (upper-right photo above), director of Information Security Operations at HCA's Continental Division in Denver. "My enlisted time as an EMT gave me perspective on working for a healthcare provider, and my commissioned time as the IT director in four different hospitals gave me the management experience and discipline to work with limited resources, to manage provider expectations and to provide great customer service."

All of which syncs with his current role, Crow says. "HCA's commitment to security, customer service and leading-edge IT technology has made the last 12 years some of the most rewarding of my career."

Another veteran's perspective: "I made the military my first career because of values such as teamwork, loyalty, discipline, ethics, patriotism, family atmosphere, structure, 'can-do' attitude and the desire to preserve and protect our way of life in this great nation," says Eric Wade (lower-right photo above), a former Marine and retired Army veteran.

"In my second career, I'm blessed to work with great people in HCA IT&S that have vast technical knowledge, determination, and professional attitudes," says Wade, a system administrator at HCA's North Texas Division in Dallas. "It's important to me to work alongside others with those same values and motivations, coupled with the mindset to do things right while serving others."

Sang Sur and Gary Petruzzelli at CA Technologies
CA Technologies (One-Time Use)

CA Technologies

Info for veterans:

The details: CA Technologies hires and train veterans for all areas of employment, including information technology. The company has participated in a special Veteran Outreach recruiting campaign in partnership with the University of Texas at Dallas, Stony Brook University and the Marine Corps. An internal Employee Network Group connects and unites CA veteran employees, focusing on service, leadership, recruiting and retention.

A veteran's perspective: "Serving in the military allowed me to hone the problem-solving and leadership skills that enable me to see the bigger picture and influence significant decisions," says Dr. Sang Sur, senior principal business systems analyst, responsible for helping to lead mergers, acquisitions and divestitures related to CA's information technology.

"As a commissioned officer in the Air Force Special Operations Command, I was involved in advancing the utility of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as a network of systems that would together accomplish their missions -- a teamwork of systems that could only be accomplished through a strong IT infrastructure," says Sur, pictured at left with Gary Petruzzelli, director of talent acquisition at CA. "My military training set the stage for me to be able to initiate business and technical solutions that enable CA Technologies to collectively excel."

IT's take: "Innovation, speed and execution are key to CA Technologies and IT, and these are qualities that Sang excels at, due to his training and experience in the military," says Andrew Harrington, VP of IT. "Though Sang has been with us a short period of time, he has hit the ground running and is already impressing his customers with his 'can do' attitude and organizational skills -- all honed during his active duty."

Ken Bargeron and David Sinclair at HP
Hewlett-Packard (One-Time Use)


Info for veterans:

The details: Hewlett-Packard was ranked as a Top 100 Military Friendly employer for 2014. Veterans are encouraged to take advantage of the company's HP ExpertOne suite of online training tools to hone IT skills and experience and earn certifications. The company is also a principal partner in Hope for U.S. Veterans, a nonprofit, disabled veteran-run organization that provides training and job opportunities to returning military personnel.

A veteran's perspective: This October, David Sinclair (at right in the photo above), accepted a position technical solutions consultant on the HP Software Fortify team. "The months leading up to this life-changing event were vigorous and intense," Sinclair recalls. "As a Navy veteran, I can say the joint venture between HP's returning veteran employment program and Workforce Opportunity Services truly worked."

IT's take: "David Sinclair brings strong work experience to HP's Fortify customer support organization because of his military background, plus strong work ethic and a willingness to take on new challenges," says Ken Bargeron (at left), team lead for Web applications security support at HP. "David has the 'can do' attitude that we require to provide world-class support. With our training programs, we look forward to David growing within our organization to becoming a strong contributor to the team."

Einar Bredeson and Chris Shunk at Verizon
Verizon Wireless (One-Time Use)

Verizon Wireless

Info for veterans:

The details: Verizon employs three regional military recruitment teams, as well as a military spouse department; offers an online military skills matcher tool; provides targeted training to veterans and transitioning soldiers; and supports a military talent network to facilitate veteran hiring.

A veteran's perspective: "As an infantry rifle platoon leader in the U.S. Army, I learned early on the importance of clearly communicating mission objectives and the 'commander's intent.' It's no different in IT -- soldiers and employees alike need to know the "why" behind the work they are doing," says Einar Bredeson (at left in the photo above), a director of IT at Verizon who also hires veterans.

"Veterans bring technical skills and many intangibles with them to Verizon. They are mission-focused, adaptable and resilient," Bredeson observes. "Our Verizon credo states, "we run to a crisis, not away," and we have many veterans that have demonstrated that ability to make a meaningful difference during national disasters."

IT's take: "From my experience with veterans in my organization, leadership, commitment and reliability are traits that stand out," says Chris Shunk (at right), a VP of IT and Bredeson's manager at Verizon.

veterans in IT
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More great companies for veterans in IT

Below is a selected list of companies that have appeared recently on Computerworld's Best Places to Work in IT list that are also members of the 100,000 Jobs Mission. Browse the list here, then head over to the mission website to view info on all 170-plus members of the coalition.

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Dow Chemical
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Kraft Foods
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