This week marks the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day and Veterans Day.  With veterans top of mind, Cisco today announces the expansion of CyberVetsUSA, a free cybersecurity training program for eligible veterans, transitioning service members, military spouses, and members of the Reserves and National Guard who are interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career in North Carolina.  Cisco, along with industry partners AWS, Fortinet, (ISC)2, Palo Alto Networks, NetApp, and NDG, is offering FREE access to online cyber training and certification to help veterans find meaningful work and address the cyber workforce shortage.  A similar program was launched earlier this month in Maryland in collaboration with the governor’s office and several public and private-sector partners.  In addition, Cisco also announced this week the Talent Bridge for Veterans Matching Engine, a free tool for veterans to find tech careers across Cisco’s partner ecosystem.

As a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, these efforts are very close to my heart. I’ve had the honor to serve our country with many amazing individuals from all branches of the U.S. military. During my military career I worked with different technologies that helped protect and secure radio, satellite, and computer network communications. This sparked my interest in cybersecurity and helped fuel my career of almost two decades at Cisco. I started at Cisco in the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) supporting network security devices and security solutions. After 4 years, I became one of the early team members of Cisco’s Security Services organization performing network security architecture assessments, penetration testing, design, and implementation work. I am now part of Cisco’s Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT).

I am grateful to see that opportunities for veterans are greater than ever before; specially in the area of cybersecurity. It is expected that there will be nearly 2 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the next few years.  Veterans are disciplined team players and leaders that have proven to have the ability to learn and work in many different situations with a track record of integrity.

As you can probably already tell, I am really excited to see these exciting veteran-focused efforts being driven by Cisco, especially the CyberVetsUSA program now offered  in my home state, North Carolina.  In fact, there are over 18,000 open IT jobs across the state, with over 10% requiring cyber skills. This is a great collaboration between the tech industry partners, the North Carolina Governor’s office and state agencies, including: NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, NC Department of Information Technology, NC Department of Commerce.  Additionally,  CyberVetsUSA leverages nonprofit organizations like Onward to Opportunity (O2O) and NC for Military Employment (NC4ME), and partners with post-secondary institutions across the state to build a skills-to-jobs pathway for veterans.  CyberVetsUSA is currently open to veterans seeking employment in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia; with additional states to be added through 2020.

Participants of CyberVetsUSA will be prepared for industry certifications such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cyber Ops and CCNA Security and well positioned for a high-demand career in cyber.

Moving from the military to civilian workforce is not easy to navigate, but Cisco is trying to ease the burden through offering direct access to training and employment opportunities.  I encourage you to check out these great programs as you navigate your next career move.


Omar Santos

Distinguished Engineer

Cisco Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) Security Research and Operations