soldier working on laptop

Double Duty: Appreciating MITRE Employees Who Also Serve in Uniform

By Denise Schiavone

U.S. veterans comprise roughly 17% of MITRE’s workforce. A portion of this demographic continues to serve—pulling double duty as military reservists and as staff who support our company’s mission to solve problems for a safer world. 

Across services, ranks, and job specialties, our employees who serve in the reserves bring their military experience to enrich our public-interest work across six federally funded R&D centers (FFRDCs). They also draw on skills and expertise from MITRE in their roles as warfighters. 

In observance of Military Appreciation Month, we recognize just a few of the many MITRE employees pulling "double duty." They balance multiple careers, family obligations, advanced education pursuits, and community service. Deployments—some upward of a year—include combat and conflict zones. Some bear the scars of battle. All are passionate about serving our country. 

Shaquan Williams with her award

Preparing the Next Generation of Warfighters

Master Sgt. Shaquan Williams serves as a security force defender in the Virginia Air National Guard. At MITRE, she’s a security lead for special-access government sponsored programs.

Williams enlisted in the Air Force shortly after high school and now has 16 years in (seven active duty, nine reserves). Coming from a service-oriented family, she finds fulfillment in helping others. Her past reserve duties have taken her to hurricane-ravaged communities in Texas, Florida, and the Virgin Islands. Recently, they took her much farther from home. Williams pictured (right), receiving her award

“I love what the military represents—the camaraderie, the chosen family, the training and knowledge we get. I want to make sure the young people who join get the same...

Master Sgt. Shaquan Williams

In December 2023, she returned from a nine-month deployment to Niger for U.S. Africa Command. She initially led the Quick Reaction Force surveying the area for security risks—the only woman in a 16-person team. Williams then took charge of the unit ensuring protection of the 700-person base and 7,000-square mile security zone, especially challenging during the coup of July 2023. For her impact, the Virginia Air National Guard recognized her as 2023 Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year

With MITRE since 2021, Williams’ duties at the company align well with her reserve responsibilities. 

“Most of our security rules at MITRE are black and white, and we have to ensure people don’t try to make them gray,” she explains. “My military experience helps me be confident and clear in establishing boundaries. And I’m able to bring that skill to both sides, because it's the same within the military.”

For Williams, a big part of serving comes down to preparing the next generation for success: “I love what the military represents—the camaraderie, the chosen family, and the reliance on each other—as well as the training and knowledge we get. The world is changing, and we don't really know what direction it's headed. I want to make sure the young people who join get those same benefits I got.”

Delivering People-Centric Leadership


Col. Michael Del Palazzo will soon command the U.S. Marine Corps Advisor Company-A, a unit that integrates joint and expeditionary capabilities with foreign partners. He joined MITRE in 2017 and works in our Center for Enterprise Modernization.

Of his 26 years of service (14 active duty, 12 reserves) Del Palazzo served in numerous leadership positions and deployed multiple times to the Middle East. Wounded by an enemy bullet in Fallujah, Iraq, on November 10, 2004—the Marine Corps Birthday, of all days—he recalls this event with gratitude. Many of the Marines he’s deployed with didn’t make it home.

“Experiences throughout my time in the military have contributed to who I am, and I’m a better person for it,” he says. “I couldn’t get those anywhere else—it’s my responsibility to rely on that experience and help people around me.” 

Del Palazzo’s reserve and civilian careers complement each other. His experience supporting various agencies in MITRE’s public-sector division helps him teach fellow Marines about what FFRDCs do. And he’s applied his military proficiency to our work in counterterrorism and national security. In the last two years, he built and led multiple projects for a range of new government customers. 

He describes his leadership style, in our organization and in the Marines, as “people-centric”: “It’s about getting the mission done while taking care of the people around you.” 

Outside of work, Del Palazzo volunteers as an Honor Flight coordinator and veteran transition mentor for MITRE’s Veterans Council, as well as a crisis counselor. Last year, he joined the Fairfax County, Va., auxiliary police force. 

He says managing all this requires tradeoffs. “My greatest challenge is living up to the standards of husband, dad, Marine, and police officer. I’m not always on point with all of thembut it’s rewarding to try.”

Dispelling the Myth of the Weekend Warrior 

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joseph Villalon serves in the New Hampshire National Guard. He came to MITRE in 2020 to work as an operations and mission systems engineer in our national security division. 

After enlisting in the Army at just 17, Villalon did nine years active duty before becoming a reservist in 2000. He’s now served for three decades and deployed nine times, six to combat zones.

He disputes the stereotype of reservist as “weekend warrior.” Between certifications, training, and real-world events, “It's not just a weekend a month, two weeks a year.” Case in point: Villalon recently returned from 10 months in the Middle East. 

Joseph Villalon with his family

He credits his close-knit family and supportive colleagues with helping him through time away, as well as integrating back into civilian life. “In the military, you can’t always call it quits at 5. But at MITRE, when I need a break, my co-workers say, ‘Hey Joe, take a knee—we got this, you're not alone.’”

After previously working for several defense contractors, he appreciates being part of a not-for-profit company. “We operate in the public interest, creating tools the warfighter can use, without trying to push an agenda.”

Though not in his official title, in both his reserve duties and at MITRE, Villalon is a translator, of sorts. Villalon pictured with his family: wife Samantha (far right) and children Karina, Katie, Maddie, and Raymond

In the Army, as a targeting officer and the fire system integration expert, “I’m responsible for ensuring all the fire systems communicate with each other and work together to support the targeting process.” At MITRE, he brings the tactical perspective to our systems engineering.

“I’m working from the ground level to determine how new capabilities should operate in the way DoD needs,” he adds. “I’m able to connect with my Army contacts about their objectives, then bring that back here and say, ‘Here’s what we need to consider when we're developing these systems.’”

Making Meaningful Impact

Capt. Moira McCarthy commands the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center’s reserve unit. With MITRE since 2016, she works as our chief engineer for combatant command priorities.  


After six years on active duty, McCarthy made the move to the reserves in 1996. The Naval War College graduate—also an attorney concentrating in international law—has served as a surface warfare officer, in information operations, in training and education, and with the Navy Inspector General. After 9/11, she mobilized for nearly three years to U.S. Atlantic Fleet and helped stand up U.S. Northern Command. McCarthy pictured (right) with her son, Lt.jg. Liam McCarthy Combes

McCarthy also directed a multinational coordination cell under U.S. Indo-Pacific Command that conducted United Nations sanctions enforcement operations against North Korea. And she led the reserve unit for NATO allied command transformation.

From this diverse career, she brings to MITRE a broad understanding of combatant command priorities and international policy and coordination. Her experience is particularly impactful in our efforts to build cyber capacity of U.S. defense partners

McCarthy says throughout her time at our company, she’s always felt supported when away for reserve duties. During a year-long, post-COVID deployment, she says, “My supervisor as well as other people I worked with—they looked out for me. And when it was time, I reached out and said, ‘I’m coming back; where are my opportunities?’ Those people helped provide a seamless transition back.”

She sees her reserve duties and MITRE work as highly interwoven.

“It’s about mission and being able to make meaningful impact,” she explains. “When it’s applicable, I can bring my expertise from the company, without conflict of interest, to what I'm doing on the military side. And I can draw on my Navy experience to help MITRE drive connection with allies and partners for national security and strategic competition goals. 

“That knowledge from both enhances my ability to contribute, in and out of uniform.”

Interested in solving problems for a safer world? Join our community of innovators, learners, knowledge-sharers, and risk takers. View our Job Openings and Student Programs. Subscribe to our MITRE 360 Newsletter.