Firms Show Veteran Support With IT Career Help

As Americans celebrate the efforts and sacrifice of the nation’s military veterans on this Veterans’ Day, it’s important to point out some of the worthy efforts of the technology industry that aim to help young heroes transition back to the world of civilian employment.

It’s hard to overstate how vital such programs are. The country’s newest veterans are returning to a United States still clawing its way out of a brutal recession with general unemployment stuck at around 8 percent. The job scene is even more difficult for former warriors, with unemployment for all veterans who served on active duty since September 2001at more than 12 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among young male veterans ages 18 to 24, the jobless rate is a staggering 29 percent, the BLS found.

The drawdown in Afghanistan will result in another 1 million service members leaving the military by 2016.

About 37 percent of returning veterans find work with the government, and 25 percent of jobless veterans say they’d like to find work in the public sector. However, as many local, state and federal agencies have been trimming their work forces during the economic downturn, “the threat to veteran employment may grow,” officials at the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America recently concluded.

Government retraining and readjustment programs help, but much has been left to the private sector, especially in the area of information technology, a skill set common to many ex-military personnel. Among some of the more notable efforts:

  • Continuum Managed Services LLC recently formed the Continuum Veterans Foundation, a nonprofit that will provide financial support to helping vets find jobs. A portion of the MSP platform maker’s service desk revenues go to supporting the organization’s efforts.
  • CompTIA created a Troops to Tech Careers initiative, a collaboration of 26 organizations nationally that is designed to help vets get certifications and find work in technology. To date, CompTIA’s program has helped more than 5,600 veterans train for and land jobs IT.
  • Hewlett-Packard Co. has teamed with the White House and the SCORE association for Veterans Fast Launch, a program  aimed at helping veterans with mentoring, tools, and training to build technology careers when they finish with military service. Lockheed Martin Corp., AT&T Corp., and Microsoft Corp. all contribute to the program as well.

Such offerings, and others like them, have been ingrained in the national psyche since President Abraham Lincoln uttered the words in his second inaugural address in 1865 that would later become the motto for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”

“With approximately 1 million veterans returning from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, two of the longest wars in our nation’s history, we have an obligation to re-integrate our heroes into society. There is a tremendous opportunity to tap into a talent pool of well-educated servicemen and women who are strongly motivated, highly trained and have many technical and professional skills,” says Continuum CEO Michael George, president of the Continuum Veterans Foundation.

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