A quarter of a million active personnel leave the U.S. Military each year and, for all of them, quitting the armed forces is a huge life change that requires considerable readjustment. For many vets, their return to civilian life is complicated by physical and/or mental wounds, and many new veterans miss the close friendships, camaraderie and sense of purpose that come with a military career.
This Veterans Day, we’re celebrating and honouring our US veterans by showcasing some of the successful businesses they’ve launched after leaving the military. We’ve scoured the web to find some of the best sites to guide and inspire all those who’ve served their country. And to all our veterans – thank you for your service.
If you’ve ever attempted to sweat off the excesses of the night before only to puke over the sidewalk as soon as you leave the gym, you’ll know exactly where Benjamin Sledge is coming from. A combat wounded veteran, Benjamin is someone who’s learned the hard way how to reintegrate into civilian life in order to build a positive, productive life.
So how do you practise active self-care when you leave the military? Borrowing from 12-steps-communities, Sledge says: “You can’t think your way into a new way of living. You have to live your way into a new way of thinking.” Active care means taking action – and Benjamin has nine tips ready and waiting for you on the Heart Support blog – beginning with openness – the willingness to ask for and accept advice from trusted friends.
We’ve heard of vets hitting the tourist trail – why not? You’ve earned it. But a road trip around Syria? When Coffee or Die asked Kevin Knodell to take a look around the war-ravaged country, it was a request to which he eagerly acceded. As Kevin says: “It’s where American troops and their local allies fought and continue to fight against ISIS. The war in Syria isn’t over.”
Contrary to popular opinion, hipsters did NOT invent coffee, a fact that inspired the guys at Coffee or Die to get in on the action. A veteran owned startup, the company roast premium coffees to order and their website provides a wealth of news, info and advice for military personnel and veterans. Looking for advice on transitioning to civilian life? Check out Coffee or Die’svets section with its guide to the recent VetXpo event in Dallas – it’s full of useful videos and helpful links – great to read over…a coffee.
If you’re struggling to find a career and lifestyle path that matches up to military life, don’t sweat it – it’s normal to feel that way. You might like to check out the highly successful, Entrepreneurs on Fire – a seven-days-a-week podcast that inspires its listeners to achieve financial and lifestyle freedom. Founder, former army officer John Lee Dumas, aka JLD proves that repackaging your military skills for civilian life is not only possible, but essential if you’re to thrive.
Are you searching for a way to live a regret-free life? If that sounds like you, make sure you listen to JDL in conversation with David Wood, the man who built what he claims is the world’s biggest executive coaching firms. “Small secrets are big problems,” says Wood: “What’s the cost of not being truthful?” If you gloss over your feelings, misunderstanding ensues. The take-home? Be more in touch with yourself, name your issues, talk about them, deal with them.
Building a workshop? Build it for 20 or 30 years down the road says Patriot Woodworker blogger, Smallpatch. Or you’ll end up adding to it time after time. Wise advice from a member of Patriot Woodworkers’ community of woodcraft enthusiasts and bloggers. This is a great place to stop by if you’re thinking of using your free time to indulge a love of carpentry and joinery.
You don’t have to be a veteran to join Patriot Woodworker, but you’re very welcome if you are. Here you’ll find a strong online community with its own Vets’ Corner, plus the chance to get involved with fundraising for veterans’ charities, and advice and info on everything to do with woodworking.
“The world has been waking up to the simple truth that bad things happen all the time and when they do, you are your best bet for survival,” writes The Prepper Journal’s moderator, and military veteran, “Wild Bill.” As a military vet, you have a certain skill set – whether you’re thinking of setting up a leadership coaching service or, like Bill, taking over the ever popular Prepper Journal, so why not put your hard-earned skills to good use?
You’ll love The Prepper Journal – from articles about how to prepare for disaster with a portable generator, to learning about nutritious plants that grow quickly, the prepper world is full of useful info and advice for anyone, and is a great example of how to repackage your military skills ready for a new and exciting career.
Do you have a tale to tell? For anyone leaving the military who feels they have a story they would like to set down as part of a project that both educates and inspires, The Veterans Project is for you. Read Medal of Honour holder, Hershel “Woody” Williams’ experience of WW2 Battle of Iwo Jima. Or find out how USMC sniper, Sgt Brady “Totanka” Cervantes puts his military instincts to good use following a road accident.
“We are currently looking for combat veterans of OIF, OEF, WWII, Vietnam, and Korea,” say the guys at The Veterans Project. If that sounds like something you’d like to do, get in touch. To find out more, why not check out the project’s podcast? Start with the introductory episode to get a feel for how it works.
“Things are made beautiful when they’re put through fire,” writes Tara Hutchinson, whose military career was ended when she was blown up by an IED in Iraq. Tara lost her right leg and suffered a brain injury which saw her lose her fine motor skills such that she could not pick up a fork to feed herself.
But through the fog of deep depression, this gutsy lady fought back, taking up an extraordinarily challenging new hobby for someone with her injury – jewelry making. That hobby has become Tara’s business – Tara Hutch Jewelry – and with her work seeing her placed among the top three emerging designers at the Centurion Jewelry Show – boy is she good at it. Like her jewelry, Tara is uniquely inspiring as you’ll discover when you check out her Badass Blog.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this small handful of vets and veteran-related projects. If you feel we’ve missed a blog or a website that you think is worth a shout out, please do let us know and we’ll try to feature it next time.