New coding program retrains veterans for jobs in cyber security, software

‘It still gives me that purpose and that meaning’

Jane Robertson · CBC News · 

Alexander DeLorenzis finds the program Coding for Veterans a great way for him to transition into fulfilling work after serving in the military. (Submitted Alexander DeLorenzis)

The Coding for Veterans Career Caravan made a stop in Charlottetown Friday as it tours across the country.

The non-for-profit Coding for Veterans is raising awareness around its programs, designed to retrain veterans for IT jobs as software development and cyber-security professionals.

Alex DeLorenzis, who was a bombardier in the Canadian Forces, was looking for a way to transition to the civilian field and was looking into coding and programming.

“I knew that was a very lucrative field, especially now that everything is so interconnected,” DeLorenzis said.

The Coding for Veterans program is to help eligible veterans acquire university-level training and certification in the IT sector. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

He signed up for the cyber security program and was able to complete the intensive online course in about eight months.

The program cohort is made up of other military members from coast to coast. DeLorenzis said it was a great learning environment with like-minded people and helped build a sense of community.

'It still gives me that purpose'

He is now working in the field in his hometown of Fredericton and said he’s glad to have fulfilling work.

Jeff Musson, executive director with Coding for Veterans says they are trying to raise awareness to help other veterans learn about coding opportunities. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

“The reason that I joined the military was to find purpose and meaning in the work that I did, and to transition to cyber security, it still gives me that purpose and that meaning,” DeLorenzis said.

“I’m not just doing it for myself. I’m doing it for other people. I’m protecting people’s data which is a valuable resource in today’s day and age and that is something we need to protect.”

Coding for Veterans executive director Jeff Musson said veterans are often well-suited for a career in IT.

“When you actually look at the skill set of someone who’s served in our military, things like leadership, attention to detail, teamwork,” Musson said.

“It’s actually the perfect alignment for the best workers in the IT industry.”

Afghan veterans, intrepreters

Coding for Veterans has two online programs — one for six months in software development, the other for eight months in cyber security.

The programs are open to eligible veterans, their spouses and families. It has also recently been opened up for interpreters from Afghanistan to help with their retraining after immigrating to Canada.

“We have a number of Afghan vets in our program and we, as a collective group, decided how are we going to support the Afghan interpreters who supported our mission over there.”

Musson said they were able to secure funding from their corporate sponsors to cover the costs for those eligible from Afghanistan.

People who are interested in signing up for the program, he said, can go on the organization’s website and fill out forms to check eligibility.

The Coding for Veterans Career Caravan will continue its cross-country tour until its final stop in Ottawa on Remembrance Day.