Clint Brunce in conversation with Mike Allen on the Axios stage. Photo: Rasy Ran for Axios

Wednesday morning, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations in Dallas, discussing how to support veterans in the workforce, including accessibility in education, mentorship programs and financial support.

VR Small, Founder and Executive Director, Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center
VR Small in conversation with Mike Allen on Wednesday. Photo: Rasy Ran for Axios

Founder and Executive Director of the Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center, VR Small, discussed empowering women veterans and supporting their entrepreneurial endeavors. She highlighted the importance of how veterans self-define and encouraged civilians to broaden their perception of what a veteran looks like.

  • On having a supportive ecosystem: "There is no state that has more programs and services open to veterans than Texas."
  • On how veterans are perceived: "We need to change the narrative as it relates to how we see people in the military...Interestingly enough, a lot of women veterans do not self identify. And part of the assumption around that is because they don't see themselves as a veteran, because our civilian population doesn't always see them as a veteran. And if they didn't deploy and they didn't serve on the front line, which is what we see in the movies and TV...then they feel like they're not a veteran."
Doug Petno, Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Banking, JPMorgan Chase
Doug Petno on the Axios stage in Dallas. Photo: Rasy Ran for Axios

Doug Petno, Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Banking at JPMorgan Chase, focused on how to create an inclusive environment for veterans in the workforce, especially those who are adjusting to civilian life.

  • On transitioning to work and civilian life: "[For veterans] you're coming from an operating framework of leadership environments that are different. The rules and regulations are different. What you're responsible for is different. The way they give you benefits is different. So there's a lot to be aware of."
  • On how to create a corporate culture that is supportive for veterans: "A lot of it's creating mentorship programs for our veterans. So they have a safe person they can ask tough questions, share their concerns. They let their guard down a little bit...But [employers] have to be nimble."
Mayor Jeff Williams, Arlington, Texas
Mayor Jeff Williams on the Axios stage. Photo: Rasy Ran for Axios

Mayor Jeff Williams of Arlington, Texas discussed the construction of the National Medal of Honor Museum in Arlington, and the opportunities it presents for public education about the role of the military.

  • On the National Medal of Honor Museum coming to Arlington, TX: "What really excites me is the educational component, because [the museum's] mission is to educate on character, integrity, sacrifice and commitment, utilizing the 3,500 stories from the Medal of Honor recipients."
  • How educational institutions help with the transition to civilian life: "The University of Texas at Arlington is a growing university with 44,000 students that the Military Times designated it as the number one university for veterans and their families...[These] organizations are the hubs for making sure that our veterans have an opportunity to be able to move into the workforce."
Clint Bruce, Co-founder, Carry the Load

Former United States Navy SEAL and former NFL Linebacker, Clint Bruce, reflected on his formative time playing professional football and serving in the military, highlighting how leadership skills are translated from sport to service to industry.

  • On recognizing leadership in all forms: "I think when you're transitioning in the military, you believe that the military has the market on selfless leadership...But I've seen multiple examples of selfless leadership and servant-based leadership in the private sector."
  • On leadership in sports and changes in the NFL: "Competitive sports is always going to be on the rise because it's such a formative leadership laboratory for all of us. I think the NFL has begun to address some of the issues that weigh it down...What I've seen is a culture shift inside a locker room towards professionalism."

Thank you JPMorgan Chase for sponsoring this event.

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