How military veterans make our products (and our company) better

Across our four businesses, former soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines – including some who still serve as reservists – work in factories, travel to test sites and embed on military installations around the world, drawing from their unique experiences and collaborating with colleagues toward a common goal: to produce the technology customers rely on to meet their missions.

Here are some of the ways that the 16,000 military veterans who work at Raytheon Technologies inform every aspect of our work, from engineering and design all the way to testing, deployment and sustainment.

Veterans help us think beyond the theoretical

An F-35 Lightning II assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VFMA) 121 takes off

An F-35 Lightning II assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VFMA) 121 takes off from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) following an expeditionary strike exercise in the Philippines on April 18, 2018. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/released

The engineering process is geared toward meeting technical requirements and specifications. Veterans add to that by bringing what's known as conops – concept of operations, the military term for thinking about a system from the perspective of the people who will use it.

“(Engineers) are dealing with equations and numbers, pencil and paper,” said Brooks “Finch” Cleveland, a former U.S. Navy pilot who now works as an aviation adviser at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business. “We come in and say, ‘That’s fantastic, now let me throw a wrench in it.’”

Case in point: the system Cleveland works with most closely – JPALS, or the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System. It started as a tool to land fighter jets on aircraft carriers in poor flight conditions. Now it's being adapted to help pilots touch down anywhere in the world.

For Cleveland, who flew F-18s in the Navy, thinking about conops means coming up with scenarios like landing in between mountains, where there’s poor line of sight to GPS satellites, or having to set up and move the system quickly to avoid a counterattack.

“We throw in variables that the real world will throw in,” he said. “We give them all these fantastical ideas, and they somehow figure out how to make it a reality.”

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Careers at Raytheon Technologies

Veterans are experts in communicating with military customers

The Customer Experience Center

The Customer Experience Center delivers a flexible space to bring in the latest technology and industry partners to support Army Aviation programs and demonstrate solutions in action.

A good command of conops goes beyond building better products. It can also help show military customers how they’ll benefit – clearly, directly and in their own vernacular.

“Rather than ‘it has this many microns, and its range is this, with wires and washers and all those things that are technical,’ I create a tactical vignette,” said Tommy Boccardi, a retired U.S. Army Ranger who now works at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business. “The value of doing that is they can quickly conceptualize where it fits in the organization.”

Another part of his job is to listen. Boccardi did that with a group of soldiers who met him at a test range to try out the new command launch unit for the Javelin Weapon System, an anti-tank guided munition. Over their customary breakfast of Doritos and energy drinks, and after an enthusiastic first reaction, Boccardi asked them: What do we have to fix?

“Sir, you’ve got to change the zoom,” Boccardi remembers one soldier saying, in reference to the controls for the weapon’s sights. “In and out has to be up and down. Just like a game controller. Just like you’re playing Xbox – up is always zoom in, down is zoom out. It’s intuitive.”

Boccardi wrote it up in his report. It was an easy fix, and the team made it quickly.

Veterans are excellent planners

Alicia Datzman

Before she worked at Collins Aerospace, Alicia Datzman spent 12 years in the U.S. Air Force, where she flew the B-1 Lancer and worked as a scheduler – a job that required her to manage complicated mission logistics. She has brought those skills to her current position at Collins’ Mission Systems business. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Twelve years in the U.S. Air Force – and more than 1,500 hours in the cockpit of a B-1 Lancer – have taught Alicia Datzman a few things about what it takes to plan and pull off a mission. In addition to being a pilot, she was also a scheduler, meaning she spent lots of time solving problems, factoring in variables and working around complications.

“I love it, but I love Sudoku. I love solving the jigsaw puzzle,” said Datzman, who now works in strategy for Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business. For mission planning in the Air Force, scheduling meant figuring out what kind of crew she would need – how many, how experienced, how rested they would be at the time – as well as how much time they’d need for things like refueling and reload. And, of course, it meant factoring in the biggest variable in all of flight: the weather.

For her current job at Collins’ Mission Systems business, it means being able to look at documents such as OV-1s – static diagrams of missions and military concepts – and to work with colleagues to envision in vivid, living detail what all those aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and sensors would need.

“Who would be doing what in the web of effects? What information would need to go where? Would that platform really be within X number of miles? Those sorts of collaboration sessions inform power, bandwidth and SWaP,” she said, referring to tradeoffs of size, weight and power in developing new technology.

Datzman’s time in the Air Force – and specifically, her studies at its Weapons School – also taught her how to deal with disagreement productively.

“I have a healthy relationship with conflict,” Datzman said. “When you get a bunch of Weapons School grads in a room, they’re going to disagree with each other, but something good is going to come out of that room.”

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Veterans bring a morale-boosting mentality

How military veterans make our company better

Ricardo Figueroa, a U.S. Navy veteran and current Raytheon Missiles & Defense employee, participates in the 2021 Run to Home Base event in Boston. The annual event benefits Home Base, an organization that offers clinical care, wellness resources, education and research to veterans, active service members and military families.

Amanda Jones would very much like to tell you about “adapt and overcome.”

Anyone who served in the Marine Corps knows that's where the saying comes from, so it should come as no surprise that's where Jones comes from too. She worked as an aviation supply analyst in the service, and today she is a materials analyst at Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies business.

“Whenever we came against a challenge, or when something didn’t go as planned, we would say, 'Adapt and overcome, Marine!,' she said. “This would remind us that no matter what challenge comes our way, there is a path forward. You just have to stay motivated and determined, and you will reach your goal.”

It turns out that’s good advice for the business world, too.

“Whenever there has been a reorg, or another big change within the organization,” she said, “I just remember: Adapt and overcome, and think about the path forward.”