Veterans, Families, Entrepreneurship, and Building Communities

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If not now when do we develop a glide path that helps soldiers and their families safely explore their identities outside of the uniform. The military's primary mission is to fight our nation's wars not transition soldiers out of the military.

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Veterans, Families, Entrepreneurship, and Building Communities

  1. 1. Akili King: Successfully Bridging The Gap Between Transitioning Soldiers And Our Nation’s Communities About Akili King “The fundamentals of executing a mission remain the same, only the language changes.” Akili King, a transitioning Army Officer and emerging Leader in the UP Global and Lean Startup Movement, believes we all have different jobs to do throughout our lives. How we get those jobs done relies heavily on a shared language and cultural norms. As our Nation’s wars draw to an end, hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families will exit a military framework and culture that does not embody the free agent, global economy of the 21st Century. As a result, universities, startup ecosystems, and potential employers fail to maximize the value that transitioning soldiers and their families bring to our Nation’s communities. It’s time to bridge the gap. In January 2012 as a volunteer at the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) in Ft. Huachuca, AZ found a 2010 West Point study of the Army’s’ ACAP program. Keenly aware of the challenges of implementing policy at the unit level and the impending reduction in forces, he realized the Military wouldn’t be able to implement the study’s recommendations effectively at the squad level. “We don’t have the infrastructure to effectively execute this mission, and asking company-level leaders who are already overextended to do even more with less will not realistically work.” That’s when the answer dawned on him…“What if we could leverage the excess capacity of the existing Army Community Service System and introduce business model thinking and entrepreneurship before soldiers exit the military?” Akili works with business owners, veterans and organizations such as the UP Global, Oregon Startup Weekend City Hub Partners, Kauffman Foundation, etc. to lay the framework and introduce the vital resources needed to help soldiers and their families explore the possibilities of life outside of the uniform. The key is to provide soldiers and their families a “glide path” that engages their communities in a safe and controlled environment using the latest methodologies and mental models. “Our soldiers are not broken…there’s simply a language difference that they need to practice developing.” Akili intends to facilitate the creation of an environment that allows soldiers to help each other find meaningful opportunities to engage with their local communities. “It goes back to soldiers helping soldiers, while still aligning with policy and leveraging current resources from the bottom up.” His vision of introducing entrepreneurship and business model thinking to soldiers and their families before they exit the military embodies customer development and testing key assumptions to find out what soldiers and their families value: (1) Introduce soldiers to local entrepreneurs and “running lean” basics (i.e. via Startup Weekend events), (2) Conduct Meetups that allows for Peer to Peer mentoring, (3) Continue with a series of Meetups with experts to teach them specific skill sets, and (4) Test your ideas and assumptions with what you’ve learned (what does interacting with your community look like, exactly?).
  2. 2. Akili King: Successfully Bridging The Gap Between Transitioning Soldiers And Our Nation’s Communities The desired end state is to provide opportunities for soldiers and their families to safely explore their identities outside of their uniforms. Current systems are limited by a stressed infrastructure designed to fight our nation’s wars not transition soldiers. Whether soldiers are looking to start careers with existing companies, or to startup their own businesses, learning entrepreneurship and business model thinking are the essential catalysts to jobs creation, which is what startups do. Please visit about.me/akili.king to learn more.

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