run by highly sophisticated IT platforms and software.”
Veterans return to the civilian world with a wide variety of
skills, says Laura Rawlings, a former captain in the U.S. Army
who now works in enterprise information security at healthcare
giant Humana in Louisville, Ky. “The military trains for every
field out there — including high tech,” she says.
Here’s her story and those of four other military veterans in IT.
MILITARY EXPERIENCE: Commissioned
as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army
Reserve 1999-2009; mobilized for active
service 2002-2004 (stateside, at Fort
Dix) and again in 2008 (Iraq); holds
the 88A (Transportation) and 90A
(Multifunctional Logistics) Military
Occupational Specialties; assigned to
the First Mobilization Support Group
at Fort Totten, N. Y.; holds the rank of major.
CIVILIAN ROLE: Senior strategist, social business, at AT&T,
When asked what qualities veterans have that might be of
interest to corporate America, Chris Norton ticks off a list of
21st-century skills with rapid-fire delivery.
“Soldiers are given a very short window of time to master any
piece of technology — be it analytics, communications, weapons
— and put it to practical use under pressure,” he says. “They’re
adept at working with minimal supervision; they’re highly
entrepreneurial; they’re able to cope in a constantly changing
landscape; they understand the global impact of their actions.”
Norton has experienced re-entry into corporate life twice —
both times at AT&T, where he has worked since 1999. (Currently
he is the business lead supporting AT&T’s B2B efforts in social
media and digital care.)
It can take as long as six months to readjust to corporate life,
he says. “In the military, you have a very clear objective —
go take the hill by this or that time,” Norton explains. “In most
cases, you can’t slip that deliverable without harm to life and
limb. Compared to that, in the private sector, there’s a different
prioritization, or what might to a solider even feel like a lack
In fact, businesses would do well to adopt some of the mili-
tary’s ability to focus. “I would think it would be real attractive
to employers to have someone on their team who can get away
from ambiguity,” Brown says.
MILITARY EXPERIENCE: U.S. Army, 2004-2007, captain. Began
her career working on the Patriot missile system; later became an
information systems manager for the Army’s NIPRNet and SIPRNet
(a.k.a. the Department of Defense’s “nippernet” and “sippernet”);
served in Texas, Georgia and Korea, among other locales.
CIVILIAN ROLE: Security consultant, enterprise information security,
at Humana, Louisville, Ky.
Everything Laura Rawlings knows about technology, she
picked up in the Army. Rawlings, who studied biology and
biochemistry in college, worked first in the Army on the Patriot
missile system — “which is very high-tech; there are a lot of
computer skills involved,” she points out — and then leaped at
an opportunity to specialize in network security.
She won early acceptance into the FA 53 officers’ program, the
military’s version of information systems management. That was
a big achievement, she says, because “usually they pick more
Unlike some other military positions, FA 53 incorporates
computer-industry tech and security certifications from Micro-
soft, Cisco and the CISSP, among others, alongside its military
requirements. That combination left Rawlings in good stead
when she was discharged and was ready to start looking for
Still, she found the process of translating her skills into
business-speak daunting. “Putting together my résumé was
nerve-racking,” she says. “I felt like I was bragging” — a
common problem among ex-military personnel trained to credit