Today’s post was written by Lt. Col. Wenceslao Angulo, Communications Director, U.S. Army Soldier for Life
“Don’t be terrified of transition,” said Anthony Stamilio, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Manpower and Reserve Affairs, as he introduced American Dream U’s Leadership Development Seminar at the Pentagon, hosted by Soldier for Life on June 26, 2015.
“You’ve graduated from something. You’ve moved. You’ve all transitioned successfully before,” Mr. Stamilio added, echoing the overarching theme of the Leadership Development Seminar: Soldiers and Veterans are resilient and up to any challenge, even transition.
American Dream U, a non-profit dedicated to helping Veterans pursue their dream job or start their own business, brought 10 speakers—many of them Retired Soldiers and Army Veterans—for a Leadership Development Seminar to walk the audience through their own entrepreneurial journeys.
“The U.S. military is the greatest source of entrepreneurs on the planet,” said Retired Soldier Joseph Kopser, who started his own company while still on active duty. “The world just doesn’t know it yet,” he added.
Veterans make ideal entrepreneurs because they have the team-building, problem-solving and leadership qualities necessary to start and run a business ingrained in them. Entrepreneurs want to hire them to work at their start-ups for those same reasons.
To bridge the gap between service and entrepreneurship, Kopser encourages companies to step up. “Take advantage of your unique position. Talk about hiring a Veteran, what he or she did in the Army and what they’re doing for you now,” he said.
Trevor Shirk, an Active Duty Soldier, also started his own company while in the military. He plans to transition in the near future, and to continue to serve. “Service doesn’t end at transition,” he said. “Your battle buddies are your Soldiers for life. We are still responsible for taking care of each other.”
Army Veteran Josh Mantz, who now works at Tesla Automotive, recently transitioned. “It’s like a deployment,” he said at the Leadership Development Seminar. “You can get all of the intel you need beforehand, but it’s not until you’re on the ground that you can really assess the situation.”