I am in an expensive room. Sometimes I get to sit in such a room. We are in the closing ceremony for the Veteran’s Entrepreneurship Program (VEP).
The room has our twenty five veterans who we selected from hundreds of applicants, and they amaze and humble me. They have served around the world. They have paid high prices and some wear their wounds where we can see them, and all of them put their chins up and shoulders back and soldier on. They have taken prices they pay in stride for serving as a part of the contract. Honor to have served is the byproduct that none of these question. Camaraderie is thick in the air.
These people are competitive, but their sense is that they compete against the world, and they would not dare leave any of the group behind. Compete, indeed.
They cheer for each other. Loudly. Like family.
They all came in wondering if they had what it takes to be an entrepreneur. They all were grateful for the chance to come and participate; and they seem clueless as to how much of an honor it was for us to serve them, teach them, encourage them.
We listened to Matt, VEP alum from only a year ago, over 1,000 combat flying hours, and a new business selling family games in 1,000 stores. Humble, quiet, succeeding. He spoke quietly but clearly, “You can do this, as well.”
They have defended our country, and have asked a helping hand to learn how to build it, one company at a time.
So we sat in the same room tonight, the day before they scatter to the wind to their posts, homes, places of possibility. I sat and ate in a room alongside people who donated the money to fly them in, train them, house them, feed them, and watch them flourish before our eyes. Some donate because their son or daughter passed away on the “frontier of freedom”, giving their lives for us to sit here, free, blessed, misty-eyed, and proud. I sat with the vets who have seen the “frontier of freedom” and fought to preserve it for us, and paid prices unasked, carrying some of those costs for the rest of their lives.
I sat humbled. Okay, misty eyed. And I remembered what I have remembered at the monuments on the Mall in DC, in the national cemeteries, and at the funerals of a few heroes.
People have paid a lot for me to sit here. People have paid an incomprehensible amount for me to sit here and have this storm of emotions whispering to me, how blessed I am.