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Many veterans will say that transitioning back into civilian life can be very difficult. Thankfully, numerous non-profit organizations help those who served our country get on their feet once they leave the military. One such organization, Vets Who Code, is dedicated to helping veterans who want to start a career in the tech industry.

Vets Who code was founded by Jerome Hardaway in 2014. Hardaway is a veteran himself, having served in the Air Force for five years. Hardaway found it challenging to find a job despite serving with distinction when he left the military in 2009. Speaking with reporters from Business Insider, Hardaway says that he remained undaunted. Upon learning of the advantages of a career in coding, Hardaway soon bought a book on databases and eventually taught himself to code. Hardaway soon branched out into other programming fields, quickly picking up how to use SQL, JavaScript, and Ruby on Rails. Hardaway’s persistence paid off when he began working for the Department of Homeland Security as a data analyst in 2010.

While working as a digital marketing assistant for a non-profit, Hardaway was inspired to found Vets Who Code. In the time since Hardaway and Vets Who Code have helped over 250 veterans from 37 states learn valuable skills for jobs in the tech industry. The entirely free program teaches a variety of programming skills. While vets can learn a programming language such as JavaScript, they can also specialize in website design, GitHub, and cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services. Even more valuable, Hardaway says that the Vets Who Code teaches veterans how to transition into civilian life successfully.

Speaking in frank terms, Hardaway says that the military is primarily focused on teaching service members the skills they need to be successful in the armed forces. Using his own Air Force career as an example, Hardaway says that the military trained him in fields as diverse as law enforcement to airplane security. Although trained well for his specific mission, Hardaway concedes that the military did not prepare him for how to transfer those skills to the civilian world. In using his own experiences teaching himself to code, Hardaway and Vets Who Code are both helping those who served our nation become an essential part of the workforce and lead entire, successful lives.