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About vea

The Veterans Entrepreneur Alliance (VEA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping veterans’ transition from their military careers into their next mission as an entrepreneur. 

 

Our organizational goals are to provide an avenue for veterans to

  • Increase their education in business
  • Expand their business
  • Connect with fellow veterans and the community around them

The VEA provides resources and support to those who are seeking to re-integrate themselves into the community through a business platform. By doing this, veterans not only re-establish a sense of purpose, but are able to continue serving by supporting their community.

A WORD FROM OUR FOUNDER

“The Veteran Entrepreneur Alliance (VEA) is my passion. This organization was born from the belief that as veterans we lose two things when we leave service. The first is our sense of purpose. For many of us our identity is thoroughly entangled with our military service. When that time is over we find ourselves wondering who we will be without it. The second is our sense of connection and community. The people and structure we grew accustomed to are suddenly gone and it’s on us to find our way. Entrepreneurship helped me rediscover both of these things! I started the VEA as a way to provide access to the people and resources needed for my fellow veterans to rediscover this as well. The VEA is a strong organization because of the people who have come together to continue to support those who have served us. Welcome to the VEA, where support, resources, and community are always just a click away!”  

— Isaac Belden, VEA Founder

About Isaac

A lot of Post 9/11 veterans have a story of bravery behind their choice to enlist. Many of them signed the dotted line because they saw what happened in New York and wanted to play a role in making sure nothing like that ever happened again. My story is a bit different. I joined on March 13th 2001, six months prior to the towers being hit. I was a 17 year old kid with no idea what I wanted out of life, I just knew I didn’t want to become my parents. My dad walked out when I was very young and my mom treated my sister and I like punching bags from time to time. I didn’t want to live the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, I wanted to do more and I believed that the military would help me find that. So, I convinced (tricked) my mom into signing a form for me to enter the military before my 18th birthday. I served as a 12B (Combat Engineer) in the Idaho Army National Guard for 12 years.

This is something that I carry with me as a point of pride. It would be safe to say that many of my years were spent as what some would call a “weekend warrior”. But the effect of even those times created a profound change in my life. I learned to follow before learning to lead. This is something that I hated in the moment but I find to be incredibly important in hindsight. If you don’t know what it feels like to follow I don’t believe that you can ever really effectively lead others. It was in June of 2004 that the most influential time of my service started. This was when I set out on an 18 month journey in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served with the bravest men and women I have ever met. 

I fought with, against, and supported the Iraqi people in hopes that we could create real and lasting change. We did this not only to defend our country but to defend the Iraqi people who had no voice. It was this period of service that I describe as the best and the worst time of my life. This single experience has left scars both physical and mental that will never fully heal. It was also this experience that made me the man I am today and as I sit here today I can honestly tell you that I am thankful to have had the opportunity to serve in that capacity.

My experiences and my exit from the military left me wondering what I do today. I launched a nonprofit organization called the Veteran Entrepreneur Alliance (VEA). The VEA is my passion. This organization was born from the belief that as veterans we lose two things when we leave service. The first is our sense of purpose. For many of us our identity is thoroughly entangled with our military service. When that time is over we find ourselves wondering who we will be without it. The second is our sense of connection and community. The people and structure we grew accustomed to are suddenly gone and it’s on us to find our way. Entrepreneurship helped me rediscover both of these things! I started the VEA as a way to provide access to the people and resources needed for my fellow veterans to rediscover this as well. The VEA is a strong organization because of the people who have come together to continue to support those who have served us.

About Maureen

Maureen O’Toole is a Partner in Sandbox Consulting Group and combines Bachelor degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Education and Master’s of Organizational Leadership to provide Professional Development, Strategic Planning, and Executive Coaching to help “Make work work.” Maureen served in leadership roles in the US Army, US Army Reserves and National Guard for 26 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel, and specializing in intelligence analysis. As an Idaho public school teacher, she created a teen leadership program that spanned 6th-12th grade, helping hundreds of young people learn about leadership styles, personal and group leadership, and take action to create positive, powerful lives. While CEO of Girl Scouts of Silver Sage, she revitalized this historic education and leadership program and Silver Sage experienced the highest membership growth of all Girl Scout councils in the US under her tenure. In 2016, she was selected as one of 7 CEOs of Influence for the Idaho Business Review. In 2017, she founded of the Idaho STEM Action Center Foundation, an outreach of the Governor’s Office, to connect industry to education to fund life-shaping STEM education for students of all ages. Maureen and husband Marty share 26 years together and three fantastic adult children and a small Schnauzer named Merlot.

About Mike

Get In Touch

(208) 861-8110

Location

Boise, Idaho

Email

isaac@vealliance.com

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