Investing in Veterans: Halfaker motivates future entrepreneurs at Pat Tillman Leadership Summit

College Park, MD—Everyone’s road of service takes a different turn along the way. For many military Veterans, after they’ve raised their hand in service to the country and served honorably, they enter the civilian sector and often forge a new path of service by carrying forward their military leadership and dedication to something greater than themselves. Hoping to help inspire Veterans to take their skills from the field and apply them to entrepreneurial endeavors, Halfaker and Associates’, President and CEO, Dawn Halfaker recently joined panelists Anthony Allman (POS REP), Seth Lynn (Veterans Campaign), Jake Wood (Team Rubicon), and Moderator, Tillman Military Scholar Adam Potter (Stability Horizon) for a discussion on Veteran entrepreneurship at the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit on July 23, 2012.

In 2002, Pat Tillman decided to serve his country and put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold. Following Pat’s death in 2004, while serving with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan, his family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation. Since its inception, the foundation has grown to become a national leader in investing in military Veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships; building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others. To date, 230 Tillman Military Scholars representing 34 states and attending 71 academic institutions nationwide have been awarded over $3.2 million in scholarship support. The scholarships help remove financial barriers to completing a degree program of choice by covering not only direct study-related expenses such as tuition and fees, but also other needs, including housing and childcare.

Looking to inspire the scholars to create a legacy of their own, each year, new Tillman Military Scholars join current and alumni Tillman Military Scholars both online and in-person at the annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit and subsequent Regional Gatherings throughout the U.S., as well as, at Pat’s Run each April at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium. Since the inaugural event in 2005, Pat’s Run has evolved from a community celebration of Pat’s memory to a global celebration of his legacy attracting more than 35,000 participants, volunteers and spectators from across the country.

Dawn was enthusiastic to join the more than 100 Tillman Military Scholars who attended the third annual three-day Pat Tillman Leadership Summit at the University of Maryland in College Park. “I am so inspired by the Pat Tillman Foundation; they really believe in the potential of Veterans and are working hard to harness that potential to ensure Veterans have the opportunity do great things as leaders in society, politics and business.”  The panel on Veteran entrepreneurship was one of many leadership development and job skills workshops offered and attendees additionally had the opportunity to volunteer to help with service projects throughout the area.

Alongside three panelists, Dawn shared her experience in transitioning from the military to the business world and how the transferable skills she developed in the military have helped propel her success in the business world. Dawn stressed the potential in Veterans by noting, “Veterans really have unique skills from their military experience that pay big dividends in business, such as adaptability, determination, and resiliency. The business environment is constantly changing so you can not place enough emphasis on the ability to find a way to accomplish your objective when things don’t go as planned—a skill military leaders are well versed in.” Furthermore, Dawn reflected that one of the key aspects of running a successful business is building a cohesive team of diverse individuals. “As a military leader, you have a lot of experience working with individuals from all corners of the U.S. with extremely varied backgrounds. The same is true in business and building a cohesive team is critical to a company’s success.”

In 2006, Dawn founded Halfaker and Associates following her medical retirement from the military with the desire to continue to serve. A firm believer in the potential of Veteran entrepreneurs, Halfaker makes it a priority to hire military Veterans and support events, such as the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit that look to educate and inspire potential Veteran entrepreneurs. Veterans often joined the military with a desire to be a part of something greater than themselves and often leave their military service with a similar desire to continue to make a difference in our society. Working with various support organizations such as ThanksUSA and The Wounded Warrior Project, Halfaker hopes to encourage Veterans to carry forward the skills they honed during their military tenure and take the leap into the business world. Most importantly, Dawn hopes to inspire other Veterans to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to continue to serve. So many of a Veterans’ qualities are directly transferable to the business world and the dividends are large: the chance to forge a meaningful career and an opportunity to be a positive influence in our communities. Dawn was thankful for the opportunity to meet with the inspirational Tillman scholars and looks forward to reading about their future endeavors in the news. Their potential, like many Veterans, is limitless.

To learn more about the Pat Tillman Foundation, please visit: