Professional development

An Army National Guard member fast tracks his cybersecurity career transition with VetsinTech

Patrick Mallory
September 29, 2022 by
Patrick Mallory

A fortuitous meeting with an Army National Guard recruiter sparked John Ligon’s interest in the complex but rewarding world of Information technology. A chief warrant officer looking out for his junior guardsman (Ligon) pushed him to get the most out of his assignments and helped him ready himself for the CompTIA Security+ certification. The VetsinTech (VIT) program supports our current and returning veterans with reintegration services and by connecting them to the national technology ecosystem. VIT is committed to bringing together a tech-specific network, resources and programs for our veterans interested in education, entrepreneurship and employment.

Following completing the boot camp, Ligon was armed with the skills and confidence to not only pass the exam but gain entry into an Information technology degree program and line up a private sector job for when his military service had concluded.

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To learn more about Ligon’s background, experience and upward trajectory, Infosec took some time to speak with him about how the Infosec training helped build his cybersecurity knowledge and share his story with other veterans looking to enter the cybersecurity industry. [This interview was lightly edited for clarity.] 

Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you currently do for work?

Before joining the United States Army National Guard around 2014 to 2017, I was going forward in a career in literature… liberal arts. I was seeking a new career path and was approached by the national guardsman. They said, "Hey, you should look into IT, it’s going to be the future." So I joined in 2018 and got into a 25 Bravo Series as an information technology specialist. That's where my IT path started.

Why did you want to take the boot camp and pursue cybersecurity specifically?

I wanted to pursue cybersecurity specifically because of the system I went through in military school to train. It deals a lot with networking, admin rights and admin privileges. So you had to use a lot of commands. And I felt like I wasn't getting enough training at my base.

In November 2021, I landed a full-time state job, which is great. I got to do my work, my job for which I went to the military school. My boss, a chief warrant officer 3, told me, "You should get your Security+ certification." I learned about Security+ in 2018, but I forgot about it because they kept postponing my test dates to get the cert. So I just let it go. I was like, "Eh, I'll probably never actually go take my test." This year came up, and my boss told me about VetsinTech. I signed up, bought the class and took the class. I took the test literally on the Fourth of July, and I passed.

How has your Infosec training and certification helped give you job-ready skills?

It's helped a lot. West Goewey was a really good instructor. A few of us had a lot of questions, and he knows his stuff. The Security+ certification will help me because I was trying to join the WGU (Western Governor’s University). I was trying to join for an IT course or degree, and you need a certification to apply.

It's also helping me secure a position, a state active duty job. It's also helping me secure a civilian job as a defense contractor because they often accept national guardsmen for the role as long as they have the certification and experience. Passing makes me feel way more confident now.

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Is there any advice you would give to another VetsinTech member considering taking this course or pursuing something like this?

You’ve got to study. Be focused. Just put in the work, and you should do well.


Click here to learn more about the VetsinTech and Infosec partnership and if you qualify for free certification training as a veteran, military spouse or transitioning military member. 

Patrick Mallory
Patrick Mallory

Patrick’s background includes cyber risk services consulting experience with Deloitte Consulting and time as an Assistant IT Director for the City of Raleigh. Patrick also has earned the OSCP, CISSP, CISM, and Security+ certifications, holds Master's Degrees in Information Security and Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and assists with graduate level teaching in an information security program.

Patrick enjoys staying on top of the latest in IT and cybersecurity news and sharing these updates to help others reach their business and public service goals.