How First Sergeant Justin Douglas continues doing what he loves most at Leidos
First Sergeant Justin Douglas joined the U.S. Army in the spring of 1995 as a cavalry scout. His military career moved him between seven countries across Europe and the Middle East for various missions involving the war on terrorism, border patrol, peacekeeping, disaster relief and training, among others. But the mission he's most proud of took place on the home front: providing disaster relief to citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
"I felt a great honor providing comfort and assistance to my fellow Americans, the ones I took an oath to serve and defend, during such a difficult time," Douglas says. "The scenes of destruction and death were unimaginable. I will always remember the strength, faith and warmth that Gulf Coast residents showed, and I hope to be a model of that same grit. The gratitude victims showed us while we soldiers worked to provide medical care, security, clothing, food, water and temporary shelter was deeply moving and filled me with pride."
Finding a Higher Purpose in His Career
Beyond serving as a soldier, Douglas held several other roles in the Army, including information technology chief, human resources officer and cavalry scout, his most cherished military occupational specialty (MOS). In that role, he was assigned as the Wounded Warrior Platoon sergeant. His primary role in that position was to ensure the successful transition of wounded soldiers from military life back to civilian life, addressing the needs of soldiers and their families in all aspects of life.
"Serving in the Wounded Warrior Platoon taught me humility and built strong character," Douglas says. "I worked with all types of soldiers, from cooks and pilots to commanders and even those in the special operations — the soldiers I'd always looked up to. That experience taught me how to be a better person and a better father. I learned to not judge a book by its cover and how to appreciate all the things I have rather than focusing on what I don't have, cherishing everything life has to offer."
Douglas says this work also made him a better listener. He gained the ability to pause, analyze and ask questions to dig deeper. As he did, his worldview grew wider, and he considered other perspectives. In this way, Douglas' sense of empathy developed along with a more enduring patience, helping him grow into a natural mentor.
"Now people think I'm born with these skills, but that's false," he says. "I learned them through serving in [the Wounded Warrior] program. No college class will teach you something like that, just life experience." Experiencing the pain and sadness with these soldiers helped Douglas overcome his own challenges.
"It also helped me see all I have to be grateful for," says Douglas. That role changed his perspective on life and has been key to his success in every position he's taken since.
How Douglas Continues to Help Veterans
For the past two years, Douglas has helped to protect the United States in a different way. Besides continuing to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve, he works as a cyber defense analyst on the Cybersecurity Intelligence and Response Team at Leidos. Day in and day out, he employs various cyber defense tools to monitor the Leidos network environment for signs of malicious activity, mitigating potential threats to Leidos and its subsidiaries while safeguarding data from today's complex and ever-changing cyberthreats.
While this is critical work, when you ask Douglas what he's most proud of, his answers circle back to one theme: helping people. Besides feeling honored to assist Americans during Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and to have served as a Wounded Warrior sergeant, Douglas is most proud of his efforts to help fellow veterans find their footing while they transition into civilian work.
In fact, of the nearly 40 people Douglas has referred to Leidos during his two-year career here, about 95% have been veterans. His help recruiting quality people to Leidos even helped him win the "$25 Grand in Your Hand" employee referral contest, but that's not why he does it.
"I'm proud to have a positive impact on veterans' lives, and helping them reach their maximum potential and personal goals here at Leidos is a part of that," he says. Beyond helping refer veterans to Leidos, Douglas spends his time assisting in other ways, such as resumé writing (including translating military skills into civilian terminology). He also teaches how to use online tools to find relevant job openings, shares information and resources about free military training and certification programs, and helps dispel myths around civilian employment. He even follows up with veterans after they've been hired to see how they're doing and if he can help.
Douglas' Take: Why Leidos is a Great Place for Veterans
Douglas says that veterans working for Leidos are a win-win: Service members get to use their skills, performing work similar to what they did in the service smooths their professional transitions, and Leidos gets to leverage a service member's knowledge and experience to support its customers. Plus, he says, there are many ways to grow at Leidos once you're in.
, Leidos Cyber Defense Analyst
I think there is a position for just about every career field. When I was researching companies while looking for my first civilian job, I was astonished by all the services Leidos offers.
He isn't the only one who can help veterans find civilian work by referring them to Leidos. You can too, even if you don't work at Leidos. Just visit the External Referral Program. You could even receive a one-time referral payment up to $5,000.
If you're a service member interested in working at Leidos, visit Operation MVP, our company-wide initiative to hire, train and support veterans. For additional support, you can sign up to attend our virtual chats designed to support military members and their spouses. And, of course, anyone who's worked with Leidos in the past is encouraged to join our Alumni Network, where you will have opportunities to rejoin the company, refer friends or family to Leidos, or become clients or vendors.