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Making the Leap: How One Veteran Found Purpose Through Entrepreneurship

Article from Homeland Magazine
  'What's Next - Transition to Civilian Life'

Written by Eve Nasby & Kristin Hennessy

Screenshot 2024-04-02 at 10.39.13 AMEntrepreneurship represents the ability to take control of your own destiny and create something tangible that leaves a lasting mark. This utopian viewpoint does come with risks, however. The entrepreneur's journey requires immense perseverance, hard work, and a relentless drive to overcome inevitable challenges along the way. David Vargas (DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen franchisee) shares how his military training and mindset proved invaluable for taking on his new entrepreneurial mission.

Hardship and the Gift of Being on American Soil
David Vargas is no stranger to adversity or perseverance. Born in Colombia, he faced immense hardship at just 3 years old when his father was tragically murdered. His mother, demonstrating remarkable courage, made the agonizing decision to leave everything behind and embark for America alone in pursuit of a better life for her family. For 8 grueling years, Vargas and his siblings remained behind, cared for by relatives, until finally they could reunite with their mother on American soil.

Though his upbringing wasn't easy, Vargas quickly understood the gift of being on American soil. "I believe we live in a land of opportunity where people's value as individuals really matters," he reflects. When he was old enough, he enlisted in the Army to "give back to a country that gave me so much."

Finding Legacy and Purpose Amidst Struggles
Like many veterans, Vargas confronted obstacles when the time came to transition from military to civilian life. The lack of the rigid structure and mission-driven purpose that defined his service left a void. Finding new meaning outside of that regimented environment proved immensely difficult - a struggle Vargas was all too familiar with.

Screenshot 2024-04-02 at 10.39.31 AMLeaving military life presented immense personal challenges for Vargas, including symptoms of PTSD. "Your mind is on such high alert during deployment. It just takes concerted time and effort to realize you're no longer in that threatening environment," he describes. Adding profound new family responsibilities like when his daughter was born during his Iraq deployment only compounded the difficulties.

He spent 15 years following his Army service working at Bank of America. A point came where he realized something was fundamentally missing. "My work fulfilled a small portion of what I wanted, but didn't give me that sense of greater purpose," he admits. Watching his single mother's financial struggles as she raised three children alone motivated him to create a different legacy. "I didn't want to look back in 20 years and ask 'what have I really accomplished? What is my legacy?'"

With his wife also feeling unsatisfied in her career, they began exploring business ownership. "We had that entrepreneurial drive to write our own destiny, be in full control of our achievements," Vargas explains. The real estate industry resonated with them, as it represented building self-made wealth.

Creating a New Path and Purpose
Their research led them to DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, ( a national home renovation franchise. Vargas was drawn to the family ownership and proven business systems. "If you follow their model diligently, put in the hard work and persistence, the chances of success are very high," he said.

Vargas's military training and mindset proved invaluable for taking on his new entrepreneurial mission. "Veterans have selfless service, honor and integrity embedded in how they naturally operate," he says. "Those are the same values that make us good employees and business owners."

For Vargas, entrepreneurship represents much more than just business ownership. "I'm looking to truly understand and actualize my full potential," he says. The ability to create something, make a tangible mark, and give back to the nation that became his "heart country" all converged with the DreamMaker opportunity.

Recognizing the Value of Your NetworkScreenshot 2024-04-02 at 10.40.12 AM
He credits his support system as being crucial for regaining his footing and stability after the military. "If I didn't have that network of friends, family and professional advisors, I would have broken," Vargas admits candidly. Now his DreamMaker franchise business advisors, fellow veteran entrepreneurs, and steadfast commitment to create a legacy for his children provide the drive to persist through the inevitable challenges.

Screenshot 2024-04-02 at 10.39.46 AMHis ambitions transcend just personal success. His family has also shared his passion to give back and join the military. His brother enlisted around the time he did. With evident pride, Vargas beams that his niece accomplished the remarkable feat of graduating from West Point, while his own son looks forward to joining the Sea Cadets youth program.

Keeping the Dream Alive
Vargas hopes to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, including his son involved with the Sea Cadets, to find their greater sense of purpose. "The United States is a place where people have the freedom to pursue opportunities and be valued for their individuality."

Vargas's story emphasizes how the transition to civilian life is about regaining the overarching sense of mission that the military once provided. The path to discovering that new meaning may well run through entrepreneurship. With persistent effort, a strong supportive network, the right business partner and healthy dose of grit, veterans like Vargas can leverage their military-honed skills and mindset to create lasting personal and professional success.

Screenshot 2024-04-02 at 10.39.58 AM

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