“Transitioning is not something that should be done alone…”
Brandon Porter, Marine veteran and founder of the Veterans Manufacturing Academy, shares the story of his transition from life in the military to civilian entrepreneurship.
My transition began in 2005 when I was medically discharged from the Marines. I was injured while serving as an Infantryman on a deployment to Afghanistan in the Fall of 2004. Upon returning to Camp Lejeune, I was put on a “Med-Board” for almost a year before being discharged. I did not expect to be sent home, so I hadn’t really done anything to prepare myself.
Shortly after my EAS, I had corrective surgery at the local VA for the injuries that led to my discharge and then took the first job that I found for which I was qualified. I was miserable. I had no idea how to handle the sudden transition and subsequent, mixture of emotions. Trying to bottle up those, often confusing, feelings. Then I lost that job which led to getting a divorce. At that point, I made the decision to fight through and be the most successful and happy person that I could. I wanted to thrive! I went to the VA with an open mind and with their help and support from other Veteran mentors, I learned how to turn Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). I decided that I wasn’t broken; I was hard to kill! During that time, I used Vocational Rehab to go to school; earning an Associate’s Degree in Gunsmithing and then an Associate’s Degree in Computer Integrated Manufacturing. Upon completion of my second degree, the community college I had attended offered me a teaching position with a focus on developing a new Firearms Manufacturing program.
While I finally felt I had a pretty good handle on my transition to civilian life, I knew I wasn’t at peak performance and that I was capable of achieving more. I dreamed of starting a program that would support veterans through their transition while providing them with skills that would lead to successful careers and the entrepreneurial fire started to really burn inside of me. After some research, I discovered the Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV). I was accepted into the program and earned an Executive Masters in Business Management, as well as the support and encouragement that I needed to develop my dream of helping other veterans and turn into a reality. In July of 2016, I founded the Veterans Manufacturing Academy.
There is still a lot of work to be done before we can enroll our first class, but learning how to build a business and seeing it grow each day is extremely rewarding. Becoming an entrepreneur and finding something that I am passionate about, where I can focus all my efforts and energy, makes me feel confident that my transition has been completed successfully. I have overcome many physical and emotional obstacles to get to this point, but I could not have done it without the help of my fellow veteran entrepreneurs and mentors. Transitioning is not something that should be done alone and I am passionate about sharing my experience and knowledge to help my fellow veterans successfully transition to civilian life.