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Guest Blog: Changing Lives Through Encouraging Veteran Entrepreneurship

The Bridge Tulsa - Friday, July 08, 2016


There are too many reasons why I have a passion for Veterans. For one, I am a Veteran. After serving in the United States Marine Corps, I had several struggles and adversities in my transition from service to civilian life. I was able to share that story of struggle when I delivered my first TEDx talk in 2014:


Tedx Tulsa: Discharge to Incharge Dave Burlin


Since that time, I have been connected with Veterans from all walks of life, in many cases from all over the country, and I have found that nearly every Veteran goes down 1 of 4 paths.

  1. Education- They go to school, generally college or a trade school of some type
  2. Employment- They work for a company, usually either a labor trade position, or for a corporate organization
  3. Entrepreneurship-Some choose to start their own company, either for profit, or non-for-profit, even franchise companies (business in a box)
  4. Adversity-This path is generally associated with drug or alcohol abuse, often caused by PTSD, and often leads Veterans to suicide.


I have seen this trend and I have spent the last few years connecting Veterans to resources in each of those paths.


For education, I have found experts in the field of education that can help Veterans find a plan that works for them, and maximize their resources like grants, G.I. Bill, and other sources of income to pay for their education.


Veterans that chose to work for a company have a unique set of challenges. A common frustration is transferring their skills they learned in the service into tangible, marketable skills, in the civilian workforce. For this, I really try to help Veterans maximize their network. In "Do Over" by Jon Acuff, a book for anyone that is going through an inevitable change in their career, Jon says "Relationships get you the first gig, skills will get you the second."

For me, a Veteran entrepreneur, I have found entrepreneurship to be the most rewarding. The challenges of this path are the closest I have found to the challenges of serving in the military. While the risks are always at the top of every discussion, the evolution of business in America is ever changing. Just like serving in the military, we as entrepreneurs have to commit to a life of learning. For this reason, I have found the most resources in the area of entrepreneurship and my passion is to help more Veterans start and grow successful companies. I truly believe that this is how we inspire other Veterans to be successful in their transition.


The final path is the most difficult to approach. The toughest part is that ALL Veterans are susceptible to falling into the final path, the path of adversity. This often leads to substance abuse, and in too many cases, suicide. I do not deny that this is a problem, however, I have found that focusing on the positive paths help pave the way for success. Ultimately, setting the example for those who continue to struggle in their path of adversity.


I have used my passion for entrepreneurship to be the beacon of hope for those who suffer. By helping Veterans start and grow companies, I want to showcase their successes in every media outlet available to keep their success visible for others to be inspired by. I help Veterans connect to resources like news media, social media, and podcast interviews to share their story across the country.


I realize that more and more Veterans will be returning home every year, and with that I want to create more resources in every path. In the future, I want to help encourage other Veterans to take the same responsibility of mentorship that I do, and with that we will truly pave a stronger path for Veterans to become successful and live the life the deserve.


Guest Blog by Dave Burlin.


For list of Veteran Resources visit: www.davemeansbusiness.com/resources

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