We Need to Find IT Jobs for Our Veterans
By Eileen Feretic
Baseline recently ran an article about the Information Technology Training and Certification Partnership between the White House and several technology companies. The program was created to help service members earn IT certifications before they leave the military.
The IT vendors involved—including Cisco, CompTIA, HP, Microsoft, NetApp, Oracle and SANS Institute—should be recognized for this terrific initiative. Far too many of our military are coming home after serving our country only to find that there are no jobs for them. Even worse, some of them eventually become homeless.
This is made painfully clear to me every weekday as I walk from Penn Station to my office in New York City. The streets I pass have dozens of homeless people, and a growing number of them are veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
This morning I met Sarge. He didn't want to give his real name; said his soldiers all called him Sarge. Between Iraq and Afghanistan, he did four tours. Now Sarge is living on the streets of New York City because his wife in his home town in Texas ran off with their money.
As if that wasn't heartbreaking enough, Sarge has cancer and suffers from PTSD. When he's not being treated for cancer at the VA hospital, he spends his days begging for money to help him survive.
Despite all his own problems, Sarge worries about all the vets coming home who can't find jobs. Very often, their military training doesn't translate into jobs in the commercial sector. He says many of them are disheartened and feel abandoned by the country they risked their lives to serve.
Sarge thinks they deserve better—and so do I. The Information Technology Training and Certification Partnership is certainly a good first step, but we need to do more. Additional technology companies need to join the partnership or start their own efforts to provide training and jobs for our returning veterans.
These are bright, dedicated and hard-working men and women—all key attributes of top-notch employees. They served our country. Now it's our turn to serve them.