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From Combat To Code: A Veteran's Journey into Tech

From Combat To Code: A Veteran's Journey into Tech

Dec 08, 2023


The journey from a military career to the tech world is unique and challenging, one that I have personally navigated. During my six years with the military Security Forces, I developed disciplines, skills, and values that have proven invaluable in my coding career. I aim to share these experiences, illustrating how the rigor and structure of military life can be a powerful foundation for success in the tech industry. I'll delve into specific practices and mindsets honed during my service and how they have shaped my approach to coding and technology. The transfer of these skills is not always straightforward, but with the right mindset, they can become your greatest assets in the tech industry. The qualities of discipline, precision, and adaptability learned in the military can be effectively translated to the tech world.

Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication, a skill honed in the military, is crucial in tech. The practice of 'Verbal Judo'—using words to de-escalate conflicts—has been particularly useful in tech environments where collaborative problem-solving is key. In the military, communication is not just about transmitting information; it's about ensuring clarity, building trust, and fostering teamwork. These aspects are just as essential in the tech world, especially when working on complex projects or in high-pressure situations. Clear, concise communication is vital for the smooth functioning of tech teams, particularly when coordinating on coding projects or troubleshooting issues. My military experience taught me the value of active listening and clear articulation, skills that have proven invaluable when collaborating with diverse tech teams.

Preparation and Documentation

Preparation in the military parallels the need in coding to prepare for standup meetings and document work, ensuring accuracy and clarity for complex projects. In the military, being prepared meant being ready for any situation, a mindset that is equally valuable in the tech industry. During my service, preparing for SitRep during Guardmount meant being ready to report and act on critical information. This level of preparation is similar to the approach needed for coding standup meetings, where sharing progress and challenges is essential. Documenting my work in coding, akin to how we handled SOPs in the military, ensures that I have a detailed record to refer back to, which is invaluable in managing complex projects. It's about creating a culture of accountability and precision, ensuring that every detail is recorded and can be easily accessed when needed.

Gearing Up

Understanding and mastering tools, whether in coding or combat, is crucial for success. In the military, each piece of equipment, from the M4A1 Rifle to the M9 Standard Issue Beretta, was essential and required thorough understanding and respect. I apply the same philosophy to my tech tools like the Mac, Command Line, and VS Code. Just as my military equipment was a lifeline in combat, these tools are integral to my coding effectiveness. The discipline of maintaining and mastering these tools has direct parallels in the tech world, where proficiency can be the difference between success and failure. Respect and understanding of tools translate from a military to a tech context, emphasizing the importance of skill and proficiency.

Building Interrelated Skills

The military service taught me the value of developing a broad skill set. Skills not directly related to my primary military role, such as strategic thinking and adaptability, have been incredibly beneficial in tech. Enhancing my abilities in areas like math, writing, and public speaking has enriched my tech career. These interrelated skills, fostered in the military, have opened new doors and provided a well-rounded approach to problem-solving in the tech industry. The ability to think strategically, a skill honed in the military, has been crucial in navigating the complexities of the tech world. Adaptability, essential in the ever-changing environment of military operations, is equally valuable in the fast-paced tech industry.

Developing Discipline

Discipline is a cornerstone of military life, and maintaining it in civilian life is crucial. Post-service, I've focused on 'selfish discipline,' a concept where personal growth aids in helping others. This principle has been pivotal in my work at Vets Who Code, where I've

applied military discipline to teach, guide, and mentor other veterans. It's about channeling the regimented structure of military life into productive habits in the civilian world. Discipline is not just about following a routine; it's about setting high standards for oneself and consistently striving to meet them. This approach has been essential for continuous growth and success, both personally and professionally.

Continuous Learning

In the military, learning and adapting to new tactics was a constant requirement; a similar mindset is vital in tech. Understanding Programming Design Patterns, for instance, is crucial for coding success. Embracing continuous learning and viewing each challenge as an opportunity to grow is pivotal in keeping up with the fast-paced evolution of technology. The tech industry is ever-evolving, and staying abreast of the latest developments is crucial for success. This commitment to learning is not just about acquiring new technical skills; it's also about understanding the broader implications of technology in society.


Networking, a critical aspect of military life, is equally important in tech. Building a diverse network within and outside the tech industry has opened numerous opportunities and provided a broader perspective. Networking in the military was about creating bonds of trust and cooperation, which are just as essential in the tech industry. Building these connections can lead to new opportunities, collaborations, and even mentorships that can significantly shape one's career path.

Staying Prepared

"Stay ready, so you don't have to get ready" is a mantra that guides readiness for new opportunities in the dynamic tech industry. Keeping my resume updated, maintaining a personal brag document, and consistently creating content are practices that keep me prepared. Preparation in this context is about more than just being ready for job opportunities; it's about continuously developing skills, staying informed about industry trends, and being proactive in personal and professional development.


The transition from military service to a tech career might involve different fields, but the core competencies and principles often overlap. The disciplines practiced in the military are invaluable in coding, paving the way for success in the tech industry for veterans. This journey is a testament to the versatility and applicability of the skills and values learned in the military, demonstrating their transformative potential in the tech industry.