Why Veterans Will Make Excellent Programmers

By: Charles Sipe, Volunteer at Operation Code
Last Updated: June 13, 2019

Veterans are excellent candidates for becoming coders. Military training teaches soldiers how to be highly disciplined, pay close attention to detail, persevere through difficult circumstances, and work on a team. These learned traits can be great assets for someone working in the web development field.

For veterans who are looking for a well-paying and in-demand career, there are few industries as appealing as programming. The government reports there were 722,000 unemployed veterans in 2013 while it projects over one million unfilled programming positions by 2020. The economy's need for programming talent can be partly filled by retraining veterans who have finished their military service.

For veterans that have the desire to transition to a career in web development, the New GI Bill can pay for a significant portion of tuition and provide a stipend for housing and books at an approved college or university. This is a great benefit for veterans who are able to attend school full-time for two to four years to complete a computer science or web development degree. However for many veterans who are supporting a family, this is not a viable option.

That is where a code school or coding bootcamp can provide an excellent alternative for getting started in the programming field and graduating as an entry-level developer. The option of attending an intensive training experience for three months can open the door for many more veterans to gain programming skills and experience to land a well-paying position and help chip away at both veteran's unemployment and the tech talent shortage in the industry.

There is just one problem. There are no code schools or coding bootcamps that are approved by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veteran GI Bill benefits which creates a financial dilemma and unnecessary burden. Why? Code schools are relatively new programs that were recently created to fill the tech talent shortage in the industry and it can take years for a new school to be approved by the The Department of Veterans Affairs.

While the GI Bill can be used for a select number of technical training programs such as HVAC repair, truck driving, emergency medical training, and barber/beautician school, it's still not an option for the high paying and high demand positions in technology. We hope to change this statistic and disparity.

Operation Code started as a grassroots organization by veteran Army Captain David Molina to try to close this loophole in the GI Bill and allow veterans to attend code schools to learn to code and help build a 21st century America and better world. The mission of the organization is to expand the new GI Bill to cover code school tuition, room, and board costs.

How can you help? If you are a veteran who is interested in attending a code school, please consider adding your name to our list at http://operationcode.org/action, and then follow up with your member of Congress on why it's important to you. Capitol Hill doesn't work like a social network, in that it requires regular email, old fashioned letters, and visits to get the point across.

Your support for Operation Code and the expansion of the New GI Bill could open the doors to thousands of veterans to learn to code, join a tech startup, or start their own. Please consider spreading the word on social media with the hashtag #operationcode.

Veterans have already served their country. Providing a simple, easy and cost-effective way for them to transition into the software industry, an area that is certainly in need of more programmers to build the products of tomorrow, using a benefit they've already earned is the least we can do for them. Join us in calling on Congress and the White House to change this today.

Charles Sipe is an aspiring front-end developer who is currently a student at University of Washington's HTML5, CSS3, and Responsive Design for Web Development Certificate program. He served 8 years in the U.S. Army and studied business at the University of Washington before working in online marketing for 5 years. He currently lives near Seattle, Washington with his wife and daughter.

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