Boots to Business Suit: A Veterans Day Memoir

Ten years ago on Veterans Day, I was still an eager young Captain, my rank newly pinned on, and proud to don my uniform on the Air Force flightline every day as an aircraft maintenance officer. I loved my job and put my heart and soul into it! However, a year later, my title and my priorities would change.

I became a Mommy.

And with that, I made the tough decision to hang up my boots and take on the new roles of mother and military spouse. After three years and two munchkins,  I began to hunt for a part-time job. Unfortunately, no available jobs had the flexibility and mobility I needed.

Assessing my skills through a veteran lens, “leader” and “manager” topped my list. Additionally, as a 'domestic engineer' with several moves under my belt, “relocation specialist” “housekeeper” and “creative decorator” all belonged in my portfolio.  I had more to offer than I had originally realized.

Then I became an entrepreneur.

In that moment, I decided it was time to put these skills to use as an entrepreneur. If I couldn’t find a job with the pay, mobility and flexibility I wanted, I’d make one.  It was then that I began a venture as a home stager and decorator.

I started small, with a client here or there around naptimes and preschool. But after four years, my efforts definitely outgrew the “side-gig” status and became a full-fledged, thriving business with four employees.

Since that first business, I’ve gone on to succeed at several others and I now understand why: Veterans make awesome business owners! I came to understand that the important principles I had learned in the military; discipline, integrity, teamwork, fearless leadership and vision all came together to help me in each entrepreneurial venture.

And I’m not alone.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2007, veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than their counterparts. Veterans own 2.4 million businesses in the US; which means that one out of every 10 veterans is a business owner. Additionally, veteran-owned businesses employ 5.8 million people and generate $1.2 trillion in receipts per year. Not too shabby, right?! And what a better way for our country’s heroes to continue serving their country?

As we approach commemorate Veterans Day on November 11, please do these three things for all of our veterans and especially those who have become entrepreneurs:

  • Make Veterans Day special. Make a point to talk to your kids about what Veterans Day means and why the sacrifice of veterans and their families is so important to us all.
  • Support small business this year and familiarize yourself with the veteran-owned businesses in your area. You can find them at: veteranownedbusinesses.com
  • Consider giving back with a donation to help a veteran start their own business. Micro-lenders like Accion, Streetshares, and the Small Business Association have programs designed for veterans and military spouses.
The potential of the growing category of veteran-owned business is literally limitless! By doing our part this Veterans Day and spreading awareness and support, we can encourage more continued service for people like me, who choose to switch gears from the battlefield to the business front.

Jen is an Air Force Academy grad, veteran, AF reservist, mommy, and military spouse with a passion for inspiring entrepreneurism amongst the military spouse ranks.  She currently lives with her 2 children and AF pilot husband near McGuire AFB, NJ.  After leaving active duty to raise kids, Jen found the flexibility she needed to keep a career by starting businesses.  She currently works with a team of fabulous women (many military spouses) to help them find their flexible career aspirations through building their own businesses.   

Read more:  https://www.spousebuzz.com/blog/2014/11/low-expectations-military-spouses.html#ixzz3IavAmEeU SpouseBUZZ.com

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria H. Taylor.




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