Washington Veterans to Technology Program’s 1,000th Graduate Embraces Post-Military Career Transition Path at Saint Martin’s University

For a decade, the Washington Veterans to Technology (WaV2T) certificate program at Saint Martin’s University has been a passageway for service members transitioning back to the civilian workforce after their time in the military.

a person walks up the steep long concrete stairs in front of Saint Martin's University
Saint Martin’s University in Lacey is among the nation’s top colleges supporting the military. The Washington Veterans to Technology career transition program exemplifies one reason the college is recognized. Photo courtesy: Saint Martin’s University

And now, the WaV2T program will graduate its 1,000th student, Specialist Damien R. Thomas. Thomas is an information technology specialist within the Headquarters Detachment of the 1st Special Forces Group, 2nd Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). Thomas is studying in the WaV2T “Server and Cloud Application” pathway, which emphasizes computer hardware and software systems, and cloud fundamentals of a company’s computer network.

“The WaV2T program was actually highly recommended by a couple of friends as well as the Army Transition Assistance Program counselors I spoke with, and they had the fastest responses when it came to any questions I had, especially in the hiring event they do every Wednesday at the Hawk (Career) Center,” says Thomas.

Saint Martin’s Veterans Technology Certificate Program Provides Pathways to Post-Military Careers

The WaV2T certificate program has its roots in the federal Hiring Heroes Act sponsored by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in 2012. Saint Martin’s and Microsoft sponsored the first cohort of students in 2013. In 2021, Microsoft and Saint Martin’s developed separate variants of the program.

man in a suit stands at a podium with a step and repeat that says 'Vets2tech' behind him.
Saint Martin’s University’s 2023 Veterans to Technology graduates earned their certificates and took the oath of the computing professional during a special ceremony on May 5. Photo courtesy: Saint Martin’s University

Saint Martin’s 16-week WaV2T certificate program provides computer science and information technology education, training, and professional development to active-duty service members in their last six months of service, veterans with an honorable or general discharge, and spouses of active-duty military or eligible veterans.

WaV2T Director Adam W. Takata says the federal legislation and Saint Martin’s program came about because service members leaving the military were often unprepared to find a civilian job. He says that many ended up drawing unemployment benefits, paid for by the U.S. Army. The WaV2T offers a path to invest the education funds and time to help students land jobs by starting a career skills program that serves them in their last six months of active duty and prepares them for transitioning to civilian life.

And that’s exactly what Thomas plans to do with his certificate. Thomas says he wants to land a federal government position after his military service, which would also help him obtain a federal retirement and pursue other post-military interests. “My goal for this program is to refresh and add to the knowledge and experience I already have,” he says. “I might know how to fix something but not the ‘why’ portion of it, so I hope to have that and a few certifications by graduation.”

SMU’s Veteran Technology Certificate Classes Deliver Successful Transitions to Civilian IT Professions

WaV2T features small in-person classes on the Lacey and JBLM campuses. Faculty hold doctoral or master’s degrees in computer science/information technology, and all have industry experience.

man in a suit shakes hands with a man holding a certificate with a step and repeat that says 'Vets2tech' behind them.
Students in the Washington Veterans to Technology program at Saint Martin’s University receive a certificate upon completion of the 16-week program. Photo courtesy: Saint Martin’s University

Most students are stationed at JBLM, transitioning to civilian life from active duty in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and now the Space Force. About 150 students annually enroll in one of three sessions. The program offers three study pathways are Server and Cloud Application, Cloud Application Development, and Cybersecurity Administration. The program also enables students to navigate their career transitions more seamlessly with resume writing sessions, mentor briefings and interview readiness.

Graduates receive college credit and a regionally accredited IT certificate. As of August 2023, 981 WaV2T students have graduated, with 54 more to receive certificates in December 2023. Takata says those graduates pursue meaningful IT careers or continue to obtain a four-year degree.

This non-degree IT program enjoys a 10-year record of excellent student outcomes, including a 98% completion rate and a 90% success rate that is measured by employment or students who pursue advanced degrees upon graduation. Plus, its graduates see high average starting salaries at hiring partners such as Amazon, Oracle, Washington State and TEKsystems.

“We’ve heard remarkable success stories about our alumni efficiently shifting from military service to fulfilling careers in the field of information technology,” Takata explains. “In fact, a number of our graduates return to share their program experiences and discuss their current roles in the IT industry with our current students.”

group of people posing for a photo in front of a step and repeat that says 'Vets2tech'
This year, Saint Martin’s University’s Washington Veterans to Technology program will award its 1,000th certificate in the career transition program. Photo courtesy: Saint Martin’s University

Saint Martin’s Veteran Technology Program Exemplifies the University’s Support of the Military

Saint Martin’s University is placed among the nation’s top colleges that support the military, receiving multiple accolades that include being named the first Purple Heart University in Washington and receiving the Military Friendly School Gold distinction five times. U.S. News and World Report also ranked the University Number 14 in “Best Colleges for Veterans” in 2022. The WaV2T program exemplifies why.

Saint Martin’s University invites active-duty personnel, military veterans and spouses to check these resources for more information on the Washington Veterans to Technology program.

Saint Martin’s University
Washington Veterans to Technology Program
5000 Abbey Way SE, Lacey, WA 98503