- - Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Salute to Veterans Series delves into the top issues that our veterans and troops face daily. The TV series features vibrant discussions and provides advice and solutions from distinguished veterans who are also successful businessmen, community leaders and were accomplished college and/or professional football athletes: Rocky Bleier, Bryce Fisher and Greg Gadson.

Their personal stories of overcoming professional and personal setbacks following military service, while embarking on a fulfilling career path using the tools they learned in the service and on the football field, paints a picture of promise to our nation’s veterans. They offer strategic insight and instruction to those troops and vets who will be transitioning into civilian life and facing unemployment or underemployment, seeking educational advancement, changing careers, becoming entrepreneurs and seeking career growth opportunities, namely, in cybersecurity.

This is just one important focus of the Salute to Veterans broadcast, which intentionally airs on military and patriotic holidays when awareness for our troops and vets are raised.

Cybersecurity among government, military, industry and consumers will continue to be a major priority in our lifetime. Cybersecurity career opportunities are growing rapidly in this country and 12 times faster than the overall job market; trained cybersecurity professionals are needed to defend the government and private industry networks. For the most part, veterans already have existing skill sets to transition from defending the country to defending our networks through cybersecurity jobs. With our veterans’ highly sought-after traits of a strong work ethic, problem-solving skills, teamwork, situation adaptability and working under pressure to meet deadlines, our nation’s heroes are well equipped to step into and excel in cybersecurity roles.

The cybersecurity field is full of opportunity for veterans, with or without degrees, and cybersecurity professionals report an average salary of $116,000 per year — almost triple the average salary nationwide. More resources should be established and maintained to ensure our troops and vets know how to access this information when seeking jobs in these fields. The U.S. is projected to have 500,000 unfilled positions within cybersecurity by 2021, but with our service men and women constantly returning to civilian life, this should not be our forecast.

The timing is crucial for our veterans and military service members to be aware of some of the resources, opportunities and solutions that are available to them within the promising cybersecurity industry. We can all do our part by spreading the word, both in person and in our daily communications, about this exciting opportunity for our nation’s well trained and highly capable veterans, to continue protecting our nation through defending our nation’s networks.

The internationally broadcast Salute to Veterans TV program for 2018 is hosted by PBS NewsHour anchor Lisa Dejardins and is just one of many available channels of information available to our troops and vets. Here are a few others:

•The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is offering several free resources to veterans looking to expand their education and knowledge within the growing field of cybersecurity, with free on-demand video training, scholarship opportunities and a free, downloadable guide entitled “Veterans Cybersecurity Training and Education Guide.”

•Veterans are able to log onto DHS’s free cybersecurity training through the Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE) and review some of the academic programs offered through the National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE).

•The Forever GI Bill’s expanded tuition assistance will further advance veteran opportunities within the lucrative cybersecurity field through removing the time limit to utilize benefits and increasing tuition assistance access among National Guard, Reservists and Purple Heart recipients.

•Veterans can seek cybersecurity degrees that are becoming increasingly offered at universities, colleges, community colleges and online educational institutions nationwide. Since 2009, more than 350,000 veterans have earned postsecondary certificates and degrees through the GI Bill.

•The SANS Institute is the largest source for information security training and security certification in the world. The SANS Institute provides training for defending systems and networks. The training can be administered in a class with SANS-certified instructors through online education or in mentored settings, reaching more than 30,000 people in the U.S. and internationally. In 2015, SANS launched its first VetSuccess Academy, giving veterans the opportunity to receive advanced technical training, GIAC certifications, and employment opportunities among leading companies offering exciting cybersecurity careers.

Veteran employment has greatly improved nationally; however, hundreds of thousands of transitioning service men and women will continue to enter the workforce over the next few years, many of whom are qualified to fill these many open positions. A recent report from ISACA found that 55 percent of organizations reported that open cyber positions take at least three months to fill while 32 percent said they take six months or more. And 27 percent of U.S. companies said they are unable to fill cybersecurity positions at all.

Overall, veterans have an understanding of technology and IT through their training and military experience. With the cybersecurity unemployment rate at 0 percent, the timing is ideal for veterans to enter the cybersecurity job market. Legendary businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffett warned last year that cyberattacks are a top priority that needed to be addressed worldwide and that “I don’t know that much about cyber, but I do think that’s the number one problem with mankind.”

The U.S. veteran population can position themselves for success, given their mission-critical military experience and knowledge of security procedures, into this ever-growing field.

Now is the time.

Cyrus Zol is creator of the Salute to Veterans Series, a televised series covering the top issues that our veterans and troops face daily, including veteran employment and cybersecurity opportunities among our nation’s 3.3 million U.S. active-duty service members, reservists, and 22 million veterans. The veterans’ series spotlights veteran success stories, discussion and solutions for important veteran issues and advocacy in advancing the interests of our nation’s veterans. The TV program is hosted by PBS NewsHour anchor Lisa Dejardins and airs during the military and patriotic holidays nationwide and internationally to our troops and their families serving in 174 countries and U.S. Navy ships at sea. Visit www.salutetoveterans.org for more information.

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