Our Veterans Reflect on Delivering Advanced Solutions to Support Warfighters
“Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they’ve suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us.”
—President Ronald Reagan, 1983, in a radio address to the nation.1
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, began as a 1938 Congress-approved U.S. holiday remembering the official end of World War I on November 11, 1918, which later evolved into a day honoring all veterans.2 Interestingly, the annual Veterans Day National Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery starts with a wreath-laying tribute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month of the year.3 In concert with many Americans, NT Concepts wants to take this opportunity to honor and thank all who served and continue to serve in the military. Their personal sacrifices, dedication, and selfless service to our nation instill great pride in our U.S. Armed Forces as they defend us and our way of life.
NT Concepts is an information technology (IT) solution integrator for the defense and intelligence communities. Our teams deliver advanced technology and data solutions to ensure our clients have the insight and situational awareness needed to support their critical missions. We know what veterans go through and sacrifice because within our company ranks proudly stand service members from nearly all branches of the Department of Defense.
We Know the Sacrifices Made
Army Reserve Major Josh Sims, our Director of Intelligence Programs, spent the first 11 years of his active duty service deployed as an Infantry Officer and later a Civil Affairs officer. At one point, the Department of the Army recognized his unit as having “the highest operational tempo of any organization in the Army” because it serviced joint Special Operations Forces. With a deployment ratio of 1 to .5, the time Josh spent back in the U.S. was only half of the time he had spent away. Today he continues to serve as a reservist because he likes being with soldiers, wants to teach them through his experience, and chooses to continue the mission and “still be in the game.”
Josh’s overseas experience reminds me of my own. Two combat tours to Iraq as a Military Intelligence Company Commander and later, as the lead Intelligence Officer in a brigade, I evenly spaced out the birth of my three girls at five-year intervals. Although I wanted my daughters to be closer in age, duty called. During my first deployment in 2004, my active duty husband desperately needed a ride back to the main base camp in Iraq. With great hesitancy, I agreed but had to strategically place him farther away from me in my convoy to minimize the overall risk to our family. Six years later, I deployed again, but this time to Afghanistan. Despite the multiple deployments we faced as a dual military couple, our family remained close and resilient.
These recurring deployments take a massive toll on military families who are repeatedly separated from their loved ones, never to regain the time lost. At every redeployment I was very appreciative of the units’ programs, social activities, planned recovery time, and endorsement of maximum time off for the families. Such effort lends credence to the motto, “Mission first, Soldiers always!”
Application of Military Experience and Expertise
The veterans of NT Concepts adeptly apply their military experience and expertise every day to their jobs to optimize their contributions to the advancement of the National Security mission. Vice President for Talent, Marine Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Chris Gros spent most of his military career “working to build strong teams” and is naturally effective in seeking the right talent to fit mission requirements.
For example, Chris recognizes that most new hires want the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to a mission, grow personally and professionally, and be part of a positive work environment.
He identifies that veterans possess strong leadership abilities and dedication to solving client problems. Additionally, they come with personnel security clearances, already approved to be part of the trusted workforce.
Former Army Specialist Kevin Nguyen joined NT Concepts in 2018 after serving four years as a Geospatial Engineer. He feels a great sense of pride serving in his San Antonio-based active duty unit that supported the humanitarian disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. He created terrain products for the commander and other customers.
Impressively, he applied what he learned in his part-time college Computer Science courses to create a Python script to improve the exporting time for large maps with a user interface for people without technical knowledge. This began his passion for Computer Science, so he got out of the Army and joined NT Concepts to “jump-start” his career, which gave him “pure satisfaction” knowing that the technology he develops help military and civilian lives. Today Kevin loves what he does as a Software Engineer, remarking that “sometimes it doesn’t feel like work.”
Kevin proudly displaying his promotion to Specialist at the historic Alamo Monument, 2017 near Fort Sam Houston.
Veterans’ Natural Fit into Our Core Values
NT Concepts has core values very comparable to veterans’ values which provide a natural fit for a seamless transition from the military to the civilian sector.
According to former Navy Cryptologic Lieutenant Sheryl Hoffman, the attributes she gained in her eight years of service naturally blended into NT Concepts’ core values of: “Support Each Other,” “Journey Together,” “Embrace Variety,” and “Exceed Expectations.”
Through her service, she learned the importance of leadership, commitment, and camaraderie amongst a diversified group of individuals. Unlike Kevin, who is just beginning his career, Sheryl joined the company with 20+ years of experience in consulting. She enjoys sharing what she knows “with the junior staff and learning from them as well,” especially the new technical capabilities like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Sheryl leads the Program Management Office inside our Delivery Management Office which guides the development and implementation of best practices for delivering quality solutions.
Matching Sheryl’s drive to effectively employ technological innovation to solve clients’ challenges is Air Force Reservist Cyber Network Analyst Technical Sergeant Joel Ybarra, who works in NT Concepts’ Technology and Information Services. He thrives on the great latitude the company gives him to present creative technical solutions.
With over 12 years in the Air Force—half active duty, half reserves—Joel values teamwork and variety among our technical solutionists who came from various backgrounds bringing multiple perspectives. He provides invaluable insight into what certain customer agencies will need because he is an end-user as a reservist; he helps ensure that the technical capability is relevant to specific mission sets.
For both Sheryl and Joel, it is all about “the journey together” through the combination of skills and experiences to build optimal solutions that “exceed expectations.” Both veterans take great pride in being able to take a technology solution and put it into the hands of Warfighter operators and decision makers.
The Shared Voice of NT Concepts Veterans
There are many commonalities among all of NT Concepts veterans who proudly continue their service to our nation and National Security. All have a strong sense of duty and pride in supporting the Warfighters. All express their gratitude for the experiences that they had, or continue to have, in the military. They encourage everyone to never forget those that paid the ultimate price for our freedom and to remember the real “unsung heroes”—parents, spouses, siblings, children, relatives, close friends—who provide unwavering support through all the tough times and sacrifices. Unequivocally, all are passionate about honoring those that serve and about being part of something larger than themselves.
As NT Concepts’ President and Chief Operating Officer Marine Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Darin Powers reminds us, inevitably veterans leave the military and become better citizens, no matter how long their service. They “apply their talents very broadly to all segments of our society, whether for profit, non-profit, commercial market, public sector markets…all is important work…all is an expression for who America is. We are vastly diverse individuals united in pursuit of a more perfect union. In doing so, veterans live our lifelong mission to support and defend our Constitution and advance our uniquely American way of life.”
His words remind me of my favorite passage, Article 1 of the Code of Conduct. As internalized by many service members, it states: “I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.”4
At 17 years old, I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States without any reservations, as did all my fellow soldiers. Many combat deployments later, I understood firsthand what those words truly meant. Everywhere I go, I carry in my heart the comrades that I have lost. It is only fitting that on this special day we honor all our veterans with great pride for their willingness to sacrifice it all in selfless service to our country.
1 “Radio Address to the Nation on America’s Veterans.” Ronald Reagan, www.reaganlibrary.gov/archives/speech/radio-address-nation-americas-veterans.
2 Lin, Ho. “The History of Veterans Day.” Military.com, www.military.com/veterans-day/history-of-veterans-day.html.
3 Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. “Veterans Affairs.” Go to VA.gov, 26 Jan. 2007, www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/.
4 “The Code of Conduct (ArmyStudyGuide.com).” Army Education Benefits Blog, www.armystudyguide.com/content/army_board_study_guide_topics/code_of_conduct/the-code-of-conduct.shtml.