Veteran Entrepreneurship

3 Reasons Why Veterans are Afraid of Entrepreneurship

In a title which may seem oxymoronic, indeed, offensive to a veteran, there lies some truth. Combat, the crucible of danger, calls for the most courageous and dedicated of people. One would believe, with good reason that our nation’s warriors are the perfect fit for the rigors of entrepreneurship. However, only 4.5 percentof the more than 3.6 million post 9/11 veterans will choose this path (49.7 percentin WWII). The Coalition for Veteran Owned Businesses (CVOB) states that of the 26 percent of veterans who want to start businesses, only six percent do. This is due, CVOB states, to a lack of access to funding. This and other contributors like a strong job market are all to blame but there is something else at play. That something is fear. In my own entrepreneurial experience, following 27 years in uniform and three combat tours I almost ran from this danger. Here are three reasons why. 

  1.  A Culture of Risk Aversion.  

Training and combat are loaded with risk. Because of this, risk assessments compliment practically every military event, from parachute operations to a military ball. Unit safety officers constantly raise awareness and advise commanders of danger. Safety briefings and training on accident prevention precede activities ranging from weekend liberty to combat patrols. In combat, I’ve delayed operations for days due to inclement weather preventing aerial medical evacuation. Risk management works. Combat casualtieshave dropped significantly over the years and while casualties from training ebb and flow, they remain substantially low. While risk management thankfully saves lives, it does create a culture of risk aversion in a military which dominates, choosing when and where it will fight.  

Good entrepreneurs analyze risk for sure, but not typically on par with military operations. Often, they take risks or gamble based on a hunch. Hazards are often ill defined or unknown. There is no chain of command or on-call group of experts to assess and manage risk. Urgency often trumps thorough risk management and there are no safety officers alerting entrepreneurs of dangers they cannot see.  

  • Isolation

From the first day in uniform onward, service members are never alone. Try going anywhere by yourself, even to the bathroom in Navy Seal training or in Army basic training and you could face expulsion. Envision a soldier in full combat gear on a remote battlefield. While the image may show only the soldier, within arm’s reach you’ll find his or her teammates. Beyond them exists a larger, cohesive team prepared to come to their rescue. Not in view but not far away, a helicopter stands ready to extract this soldier from danger. Artillery tubes and their crews stand by to provide supporting fire. Airborne surveillance drones scan the area depicting danger beyond view and attack aircraft dominate the sky ready to swoop in and save the day. The soldier is equipped with modern protective gear and weaponry. Team members watch his or her back and are ready and equipped to provide lifesaving first aid. While dangerous and frightening, the soldier is emboldened by an extensive safety net of protection, backed by a team which knows and trusts one another.  

Now picture that same soldier attempting to start a business. Scan left and right and you’ll find no one. Once removed from service, from this comprehensive safety net and sense of security, trust and teamwork all but vanishes. An investor will not rush to the aid of an entrepreneur should they stumble and fall. A business mentor won’t be at arm’s length and they’ll be nothing hovering overhead to detect threats beyond their view. A new fear emerges from this isolation and nakedness.      

  • The Foreign Language and Focus of Money

Consider the fear of being thrust into a foreign country unfamiliar with the local language and customs. This is what combat feels like, especially in rural Afghanistan. I felt this fear but overcame it with my trusty interpreter by my side. Almost overnight, upon separation, the word entrepreneurship and its associated moneylanguage, rarely spoken in the military, become the veteran’s new native tongue. Scale, venture capital and valuation replace phase line, time on target, and mission command. I and my soldiers were good stewards of our allocated Army budget but we never lost sleep over cashflow or meeting payroll. Finances received little attention, especially after 9/11 where the military seemed to operate from a government blank check. We received our standard pay and allowances instead of negotiating a compensation package. To this day, three years into my own entrepreneurship journey, I’m still uncomfortable with this focus on money. I have mentors to turn to but they’re not at arm’s length.    

While some battles have been lost, the war -- veterans as entrepreneurs-- is not. This fear can be defeated when veteran entrepreneurship is treated as a journey and not a one size fits all class or evening networking event. It starts with self-awareness and passion alignment. It then requires mentorship from engaged former military and civilian business mentors. Mentors must develop trust and actively and constantly challenge the veteran bolstering their courage and keeping them on task. “Call if you need me” will not work. Experienced teachers must transform the veteran’s risk management process and teach the new language of money. Vignettes of successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs should be studied. Repetitive exercises, like rifle drills, in business planning and operations should be conducted. We must find ways to replace the teamwork and trust once enjoyed in uniform with a new team of brave, risk-taking, mentors, coaches and trainers.  

Veterans fought for the very freedom entrepreneurship provides. They ought to enjoy what they fought for. Emboldened by a new approach to risk, new businesscomrades and entrepreneurial language skills, they can muster the courage to overcome the obstacles of starting a business becoming America’s next generation of entrepreneurs.  

Colonel Rob Campbell

Rob Campbell is the founder of Investing in People Consulting and Coaching LLC.  A leadership entrepreneur, Rob speaks, writes and coaches on leadership in the modern workplace.  He is the author of It’s Personal, Not Personnel, Leadership Lessons for the Battlefield and the Boardroom.  Rob is a 27-year Army veteran with combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Under Rob’s leadership, his 5,000-person infantry brigade achieved Army-leading (number one of 34 brigades) results in personnel performance, soldier retention, promotion selection rates and other leadership accomplishments.

  Check out Rob's Book!

Summer 2019!

360 Veterans’ Association Members Newsletter

Summer 2019

From the President

Summer is here! Time for Family, fun and celebrating our Nation’s Independence.  Happy Birthday USA!  We also celebrate our most recent group of members from the May Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) Leader 360 Course. And, we are excited to be heading back to JBSA to deliver courses for Army North and the Air Forces 502d Air Wing over the summer. We are now over 600 Members and growing! Thank you!

Got Our Troops Foundation 7thAnnual Golf Tournament

360VA was privileged to be sponsored by Got Our Troops Foundation of New Orleans to participate in their 7thAnnual Golf Tournament. The GOT Foundation and some generous donors in San Antonio afforded us the opportunity to host USMC Veteran CPL Shawn Lopez, Army SSG Ben Weller and his wife Amber from the Military District of Washington, and our JBSA Chapter President, Air Force TSgt Lyle Kelley and his wife Samantha. All had a great time meeting local veterans, enjoying some great NOLA food and taking a whack at some Golf! 

GOT Foundation Recognized with its First “Starfish” Award!

Dr. Mary Lopez said, “it’s great to be invited back, feel the support of the New Orleans community and get to personally say thanks by presenting Got Our Troops with their First Starfish Award”!  GOT Foundation is making a difference!

JBSA Chapter Report

JBSA President Lyle Kelley reports the first Ice Cream Social was a hit! He said, “The new members really thought it was a special treat to get welcomed to 360VA with Cake and Ice Cream and it was great for our chapter members to meet them and as always see the 360 Team!”

SSG Daniel A. Quintana

So, as it happens, we often lose contact with even those so important to us. Such was the case with 360 and Nilda. We had lost contact as both had moved from Germany following Daniel’s death. Gratefully, we are all a small - big military Family and during our most recent course at Joint Base San Antonio a couple in the class recognized that they knew the story of SSG Daniel Quintana because they had met his Family while serving at a TAPS grief camp. They passed us Nilda’s contact information and we have been so pleased and honored to get reconnected. Nilda sent the update below over Memorial Day weekend. 

I remember the day Daniel came back from 360 Leaders Course in Vilseck, he came talking about what he did in the class and that he actually loved the experience. Never would have imagined that would have been the last class he was able to attend after he deployed and was KIA Sept of 2011. I was 7 months pregnant with our daughter Adriana and my son was 13 at that time. Today Adriana loves hearing stories about her Daddy and I did show her this award as well. My son Jose joined the United States Navy. I heard a few years later from a mutual friend that attended one of the courses that it was named in honor of my husband and I was so proud that so many people recognized the great man and leader he was.  I am so happy that I was finally able to say thank you for it. Please let’s don’t lose the contact!

We will not lose contact Nilda and we will Never Forget! In May, SSG Hasand Sanders, USA was recognized by his peers for his leadership and became the 43rdrecipient of the SSG Daniel A. Quintana Memorial Leadership Award. With the support of our members and caring leaders, there will be many more to come.

SSG Daniel A. Quintana Memorial Leadership Award.  Learn more about the Leadership award, see the list of all 43 recipients and learn how you can sponsor a Veterans attendance to a Leader 360° Course on your association’s

Spouse Incentive Programgenerated its highest turnout recently at Joint Base San Antonio when 16 spouses participated in the course! We know it made a real difference for them and all of us as well. Thank you for joining us!

Military Community Significant Days & Observances: 

 04 July            243rdIndependence Day

22 July            Leader 360 Course, 502d Air Wing, JBSA

29 July            Army Chaplain Corps Anniversary

 01 Aug            Air Force Day

 04 Aug            Coast Guard 228thBirthday

 06 Aug            Leader 360 Course, Joint Base San Antonio

 07 Aug            Purple Heart Day

 10 Aug            DoD Birthday

 12 Aug            Leader 360 Course, 502d Air Wing, JBSA

 29 Aug            Marine Corps Reserve Birthday

 02 Sep            Labor Day

 11 Sep            Patriots Day

 18 Sep            Air Force Birthday

 20 Sep            POW/MIA Day

360 COIN. So, we think it is time we get serious about minting a 360 coin as a feature of our “I am 360 Strong” campaign! -- We had actually had report of a broken wristband recently! Btw, you can contact us for replacements anytime. -- Details to follow, but we will recognize the selected design with a $360 cash award! Watch your email for details. 

Pay it forward.  Pass the word to your “Brothers and Sisters in Arms”and our military Veterans by inviting them to register for their membership  Send us your feedback and recommendations. Participate in member groups and pass the word and follow us on: 




Best wishes for a great, safe Summer!

Stay 360° Strong!

Steve Salazar



360 Veterans’ Association

“Making the Strong Stronger”

360VA is a 501(c)(19) War Veterans’ Organization: organized exclusively for charitable, educational, scientific, and literary purposes to benefit veterans and members of the United States Armed Forces.  Donations are tax exempt and directly support our Nations’ Veterans.

-- Of Veterans, for Veterans --

43rd SSG Quintana Memorial Leadership Award

Congrats to SSG (P) Hasand Sanders, 43rd recipient of the 360 Programs SSG Daniel A. Quintana memorial leadership award. Hasand was was voted by hs classmates the leader they would follow even if they didn't have to. I can't imagine a great leadership recognition than that of your peers. Hasand distinguished himself during the course with his stories of incredible life challenges! He showed strength in sharing and also the amazing sense of perspective and positive outlook he has achieved. Great to know you Hasand. You lead by example.

2018 Newsletter: Happy New Year!

360VA Newsletter, December 2018

From the President

It has been an important year for 360 Veterans’ Association. Our membership continues to grow as we add Leader 360° Course Alumni, Veterans and Family Members, and 2018 brought some significant firsts:

Membership crossed 360! We were able to mark the occasion at Joint Base San Antonio. Congrats to TSgt David Britt, our 360th Member!

360VA JBSA Chapter has been “provisionally” established as our first local chapter. Its purpose is to promote and sustain the connections created and skills obtained during the Leader 360° Course. We also want to create connections with local Veterans and other organizations that support them. You can contact Lyle Kelley to join.

Got Our Troops Foundation of New Orleans invited us to participate in their annual golf tournament and made a generous donation that allowed us to launch member programs for you this year. We are invited back and look forward to their 2019 tournament! You can follow GOT Foundation on Facebook.

Member Programs. Thanks to some great donations this year we were able to start three programs:

 Nutrition Promotion. 360VA provides nutritious snacks during Leader 360° Courses to promote a nutritious lifestyle.

“I am 360 Strong” Campaign. Members are issued I am 360° Strongwristbands to serve as a reminder, as so well stated by one of our members,“...I have always been strong, but now I am even stronger and can make it through anything.”

Spouse Incentive Program. Promotes the participation of spouses in Leader 360° Courses. Spouses are so important to support of our military members, but they have so many demands on their time it is difficult for them to break away to participate. This year the Spouse Incentive Program supported 45 spouses and we hope to support many more in the coming year.

Your association was able to obtain Guide Star’s 2018 Bronze Seal of Transparency. This is very important to us and we will pursue Gold for 2019. There are many well and some not so well intended organizations raising funds under the auspices of Veteran causes. We want you, our members, and potential donors to know that their donations make a difference. 360VA is an all-volunteer staffed association that works for you.

Pay it forward: Pass the word to your “Brothers and Sisters in Arms” and our military Veterans by inviting them to register for their membership Send us your feedback and recommendations. Participate in member groups and pass the word and follow us on:


Military Community Significant Days & Observances: 

  • 01 Jan 2019       Happy New Year
  • 21 Jan 2019       Martin Luther King Jr Birthday Holiday
  • 04 Feb 2019       Leader 360°Course, Vicenza Military Community
  • 11 Feb 2019       Leader 360°Course, Vicenza Military Community
  • 18 Feb 2019       President’s Day
  • 19 Feb 2019       Coast Guard Reserve Birthday
  • 01 Mar 2019       Women’s History Month
  • 03 Mar 2019       Navy Reserve Birthday
  • 05 Mar 2019       Seabee Birthday
  • 13 Mar 2019       K 9 Veterans Day (1942)
  • 15 Mar 2019       Centennial Anniversary of the American Legion (1919)
  • 25 Mar 2019       Medal of Honor Day
  • 25 Mar 2019       Leader 360°Course, Military District of Washington
  • 29 Mar 2019       Vietnam Veterans Day
  • 05 Apr 2019       Gold Star Spouses Day
  • 01 May 2019      Loyalty Day
  • 06 May 2019      Got Our Troops Golf Tournament
  • 12 May 2019      Mother’s Day
  • 18 May 2019      Armed Forces Day
  • 27 May 2019      Memorial Day Federal Holiday

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a great year!

Stay 360° Strong!

Steve Salazar

360 Veterans’ Association“Making the Strong Stronger”