For retired Air Force serviceman Josh Weed, reentering civilian life felt like entering another universe. There were many things to adjust to: time changes after stationing in Germany, totally different resume formats — even the vernacular was different.
“There’s less of a connectivity or understanding between the military universe and the civilian world,” Josh explained. “For example, in the military, we call finance people comptrollers, but no one in the civilian world calls anyone comptrollers really. So they might use a term like controller or financial analyst or staff accountant. The language is completely different.”
The transition from a military mindset to a civilian one certainly proved challenging, but luckily Josh Weed wasn’t alone. After shelving his combat boots, Josh connected with a vast network of veterans and active military officers who helped him map out this strange new world.
“When you’re first starting out you need some guidance to help you translate the great experience that people get in the military into civilian jobs,” Josh explained. “Because they do get a lot of education and training, and a ton of leadership at very young ages that you would not get in the civilian world. And so, I think part of it is the communication and making sure that you can translate your experience in a way that a civilian executive would understand it.”
One organization in Josh’s network not only helped him translate his military skills into civilian ones, but introduced him to the world of real estate investing as well.
“About two years ago, I joined a group called White Feather Investments,” Josh said. “It’s a group of military folks, and that was really when my real estate journey started. I bought my first single-family rental through that organization and network — they helped coach me through the process. I’ve now bought two single-family rentals, and still get a lot of advice from them.”
Grateful to his own mentors when he was starting out, Josh Weed now returns the favor by imparting some of his own wisdom — and capital — onto veteran entrepreneurs looking to make their start in the business world.
“I work with a venture capital group called Veterans Venture Capital. And we focus on investing in early-stage veteran-owned or veteran-led companies. And so that sparks both my interest in investing in companies, and also mentoring and advising those veteran CEOs as they try to grow and scale their companies,” Josh said.
The process has been a rewarding one for Josh. It’s turned out to be the perfect way to kickstart veteran entrepreneurs and help them with the civilian transition in the process. He’s especially excited about his recent investment in a physical security company started by an Army Special Forces helicopter pilot. Inspired by his time deployed in Iraq, the entrepreneur created a security box with a kick plate mechanism used to barricade doors.
“He was working with Special Forces and the locals figured out that when the guys would come in the middle of the night and try to do raids, they would take big heavy objects and break down the door. So they figured out that if they put metal bars at the bottom of the door it was much stronger than just dead bolting their door,” Josh explained.
With the help of investors like Josh, the veteran entrepreneur was able to bring his idea back to the states and transform it into a full-fledged company, with applications reaching into commercial and educational security.
“That’s a great example of an entrepreneur who had a good idea, worked his ass off to start this company once he got back from his deployment in Iraq, and it was really exciting,” Josh said of his most recent investment. “And he’s going to have a really good future financially, whether he stays with the company after it’s acquired or not. And then we can be a part of that as well. We were his first institutional investor to come and support him. And so it’s exciting to see a company like that grow and scale.”
So while the transition from military to civilian life can be a challenging one, Josh is more than thankful for the help he’s had along the way. The real estate investments his mentors guided him through have been instrumental in generating the passive income Josh needs to invest in the companies he believes in, especially when it comes to helping other veterans make the same transition he did.
About the Author:
Leslie Chunta is a marketing consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in creating dynamic marketing programs and building brands for startups to enterprise organizations. She has worked agency- and client-side with high-growth companies that include Silicon Valley Bank, JPMorgan Chase, SailPoint, EMC, Spanning Cloud Apps, Ashcroft Capital, Netspend, and Universal Studios. www.thelabcollective.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.