PORTLAND, OR -- For many, military service is generational. Parents or grandparents, a sister or brother-- knowing someone in the military can make the decision to join much easier. Both of Staff Sgt. Chandler Laverty-White’s parents served in the U.S. Army and growing up she saw how the military elevated her parent’s livelihoods. Seeing this benefit in her parents’ lives led her to the decision to join and have her own experiences.
Laverty’s military journey started off in the Army National Guard’s artillery brigade. However, in 2019, she had an opportunity present itself to her which ultimately led her to switch branches and transfer over to the 142nd Communications (comm) Flight in the Oregon Air National Guard (ORANG). There she would work as a Client Systems Technician.
This was an easy decision for Laverty to make, primarily because the career field interested her, and the skill set was in demand and easily transferrable to the civilian sector.
As a client systems technician, Laverty is responsible for many of the computer systems on base, ranging from an individual laptop to the systems used to put aircraft in the air.
Laverty emphasized the importance of cyber operations to the success of the overall mission. Cyber technicians are invaluable in the 142nd Wing’s efforts to maintain constant readiness and air superiority.
“If you take out the cyber element you take out a lot of the capability,” said Laverty.
Outside of the ORANG, Laverty works as an Information Systems Security Officer for the company, Plexus which is a defense contractor. In this job, she maintains government computers and makes sure they are compliant with regulations, as well as working cybersecurity and analytics for the company’s corporate network. This job ties into her work in the guard because both are required to meet many of the same standards.
“It correlates because all cyber is intermingled,” said Laverty. “Being in cyber, you know that you are important and what you do really helps. Sometimes it can feel like you’re just working really small issues, but the impact is much larger than just fixing one or two computers.”
In addition to providing her with applicable workforce skills, being part of the communications flight here has provided her with a strong sense of community. She described the unit as being supportive and there for her if she needs help. Her guard family is what keeps her serving and why she continues to want to stay.
Laverty’s military experience is unique in the sense that she works in a predominantly male career field. However, the women in cyber are a very close-knit group who foster strong support and mentorship for each other.
“There’s not that many women in the Oregon Air National Guard, especially over here in comm,” said Laverty. “But the women take you under their wing, support and build you up. Everyone is fantastic, and we have deep conversations… that has been my experience so far.”
Laverty would like to see more women working in comm and tech in general. The career field is fast-paced and often challenging. It provides avenues for everyone of all personality types and backgrounds to succeed and offers opportunities for mentorship, finding jobs in the civilian sector, building knowledge and career growth, as well as furthering education.
The need for Communication and cyber professionals has been on the rise in recent years and new aspects and operations are continuously being added, making the career field more relevant and in demand than ever. Each new aircraft that the Air National Guard and Air Force use comes with more and more technology on board. With the expertise of cyber Airmen like Laverty, the Air National Guard is able to execute the mission safely and efficiently, ensuring homeland and national security.