Military Appreciation Month – Hats Off to Our (Cybersecurity) Veterans

Cyber Security, High Technology, Technology Posted May 13, 2021 by Claire Mutty

May is Military Appreciation Month, and to celebrate and honor a few of our clients’ cybersecurity executives with military backgrounds, CHEN PR reconnected with our friends at TechStrong TV who wholeheartedly agreed to organize a panel discussion on the military experiences and skillsets that transfer into the cybersecurity sector.

The panel published on May 3, 2021 and featured the following experts:

J.C. Vega, Chief Information Security Officer, Devo Technology

C. spent nearly 30 years in cybersecurity leadership and operational roles in the U.S. Government and the U.S. Department of Defense, rising to the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army. He helped build strategic cyber programs at the Army and National level and led professional operations, research, and technology teams in preparation for combat and support missions within the most hostile environments.


Jason Passwaters, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Intel 471

Jason is a former U.S. Marine who began his service in the infantry, then pursued counterintelligence, human intelligence (HUMINT), and eventually technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM). While in the military, he gained significant experience in cyberthreat intelligence and learned to emphasize the areas that can make threat intel more targetable for organizations.


Barrett Darnell, Managing Senior Operator, Bishop Fox

Barrett served as an exploitation operator in the U.S. Department of Defense’s most elite computer network exploitation (CNE) unit. As a top-rated military officer with nearly 12 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, he led an offensive operations team in the branch’s premier, selectively manned cyberattack squadron.


The discussion kicked off with each participant sharing highlights of their military experiences, including host Charlene O’Hanlon, who grew up in and around army posts as, what she referred to as, a military brat. The panelists talked about how the expertise they developed while serving in the military – from intel management and deep technical knowledge to diligence and a focused mindset – prepared them both technically and operationally for the rapidly evolving cybersecurity industry.

Charlene wrapped up the interview by asking each panelist to provide some advice for those individuals transitioning out of the military who are considering a career in cybersecurity. The group encouraged that even if you don’t have specific experience in the sector, all veterans have been taught the foundations of security.

A few other valuable pieces of advice provided by the panelists:

  • “Don’t undersell yourself.” – J.C.
  • “Start preparing early. And be curious.” – Jason
  • “Take advantage of all the resources you have.” – Barrett


Thank you again to all our veterans for their service!


The full video recording of the panel discussion can be viewed here: