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What veterans bring to cybersecurity

This post was originally published on LinkedIn by Chris Cortez, vice president of Military Affairs.

Leveraging military talent to fill the cybersecurity skills gap.

Data security is a frontline concern for every organization managing sensitive data. In today’s digital business environment, data and information technology are engines that drive not only transactions and secure information — but also core insights into operational performance, inefficiencies, and cost-saving opportunities for businesses. While technology becomes more sophisticated and central to the operations of key business sectors, so do the avenues and doorways for bad actors to exploit sensitive data. 

Despite escalating costs and severity of cybersecurity breaches, businesses are currently impacted by a talent shortage. According to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, demand for cybersecurity experts is outpacing the US job market by an astonishing 31x. This failure is evident nationwide, with unfilled openings in every state across the country.

To fill the cybersecurity skills gap, industry must identify or develop skilled professionals prepared to meet the task, or train others to serve in such a role. As organizations assess their approach to protecting customers and sensitive data from cybersecurity attack, they should keep in mind the deep resources we have in our talent-rich veteran community.

When a security incident occurs, is your team trained to tune out the noise and function as a unit?

In today’s digital world, cybersecurity means more than personal privacy. For any enterprise, the security of data is their business. Partnerships, clients, customers, and the business bottom line depend on assuring data security.

When a cyber threat or data breach is identified—which happens every day—it is a red-alert crisis for stakeholders, shareholders, and leadership of the vulnerable organization. For the cybersecurity teams on point to protect and defend secure data, a breach demands immediate and cohesive action under immense pressure.

Focus under fire is challenging in the best of circumstances. Service members are uniquely and specially trained to be their most communicative, engaged, and efficient during stressful and ambiguous situations. By bolstering core cybersecurity teams with military talent, organizations ensure that their security divisions are equipped with tested professionals in crisis operations.

This is where hiring military talent nets real and immediate ROI.

Service members accomplish their mission as a team. This sense of teamwork is highly desirable in all industries.

When alerted to a security breach, swift and efficient coordination of mitigating efforts is crucial. Teams with service members can mobilize, activate, and execute as a single unit. They are united with deep respect for their unit roles, responsibilities, and the unique specializations of their teammates.

The reality is that military service instills unique perspective and training.

Workplace mistrust can delay action when moments count, for the assets of an organization and its customers. Effective collaboration in high-pressure and accountability environments like cybersecurity requires strong organizational trust across the business hierarchy.

Military service engrains a shared commitment to mission over self. This translates to efficiency and finesse in business crises. Under pressure, service members engage their work fully and with urgency, and trust in shared vision.

In-demand resources on standby.

Veterans and transitioning service members exit the military with superior career skills that translate to immediate benefit for employers. All aspects of security are fundamental in what military members do daily.  Many even exit the service with an active security clearance and work history in security operations and analysis. However, military skillsets  are not easily understood by recruiting teams in corporate America. 33% of veterans are underemployed – meaning they don’t have enough paid work, or are lacking work that makes full use of their skills and abilities.

A wealth of talent at the ready.

We believe that service members transitioning out of uniform are uniquely suited for cybersecurity roles. “Security” is at the heart of all military training. As a result, veterans bring inherent strengths and skills such as strategic thinking, teamwork, and poise under pressure to cybersecurity operations.

Every year over 200,000 military members transition from active duty to civilian roles, and our collective investment in their defensive and operational training has immediate application in critical-need private sector and IT fields. By strategically embedding veteran talent in critical-need fields like cybersecurity, organizations not only bolster their customers and partners from costly security breaches—they also sustain their cybersecurity teams with deep leadership, teambuilding, and communication skills that make the difference when seconds count.


At Microsoft Military Affairs our work is to enable the military community to pivot their training and expertise to the field of IT. Since the doors opened in our first classroom, over 3,500 veterans have completed our Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) training and gone on to start IT careers with one of our 1,000+ MSSA hiring partners, including hundreds of roles filled right here at Microsoft.

This fall we announced MSSA-Cybersecurity Operations—a new learning path for veterans to pivot their experience to IT and address the critical demand for cybersecurity professionals. Our first Cybersecurity Operations participants complete their training January and February 2023 and are now onboarding or interviewing for IT industry roles. Organizations seeking to benefit from veteran talent are invited to learn more about our no-cost Hiring Partner program at

Are you a military veteran or transitioning service member who is ready to pursue your career in IT? Applications for July MSSA cohorts are accepted Feb. 20 – Mar. 6, 2023. Learn about our approach to cybersecurity readiness—and how to apply—on our website at or the Military Affairs LinkedIn.