“I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. ” - Navy SEAL Creed
Entrepreneurship is risky business, but it also affords us opportunities that would not otherwise present themselves. It allows us to translate calculated risk into scalable models. Yes, it also puts us in the direct path of potential failure, but failure and sacrifice can be some of the best learning tools out there. My path to entrepreneurship started in the military, a place where risk and sacrifice are unavoidable.
One of the most amazing blessings God ever granted me was the opportunity to serve my country. My contribution to this ongoing war on terror pales in comparison to that of some of our brothers who are still down range and in harm’s way. And some, those who have sacrificed the most, are still in the fight back here at home, with their families fighting alongside them.
I want to tell you about one of those people. This is a story about sacrifice and perseverance. This is the story of Navy SEAL Team 5 operator Elliott Miller.
Getting back up
Elliott grew up in a rural area of southern Illinois and served in the Marine Corps for four years. Less than a year after he was honorably discharged and enrolled at Southern Illinois University, 9/11 occurred. Once again Elliott felt the call to serve, and this time he enlisted in the Navy with a goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. Elliott successfully completed training and was assigned to SEAL Team 5 as a sniper and combat medic.
Elliott deployed to Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006 with SEAL Team 5. While on a mission he was gravely injured by an improvised explosive device and suffered severe head trauma, burns on 15 percent of his body, massive blood loss, a broken right arm, a collapsed lung, many soft tissue wounds from shrapnel, and a severely damaged left leg. He was in a coma for four months.
Over the next few years, Elliot underwent more than 60 surgeries, including multiple skin graphs and the amputation of his left leg. The severe brain trauma made it near impossible for him to even speak. During his recovery period, however, Elliott met and fell in love with his physical therapist, April, and they are now married with two children. Elliott has made more progress in recovery in the past few months than over the previous seven years, and he is now able to tell his wife and kids he loves them.
The responsibility to serve
This article is not about corporate social responsibility, but rather about continually reminding ourselves that serving others is imperative to achieving true success.
I learned that in the Teams and have tried to apply it to my life as an entrepreneur. I strive to keep it constantly in mind that our blessings in large part come from those who have forged the path before us. And what is success in business or in life without giving back and providing the same opportunities to others that have been provided to us?
The men and women of the military, and their families, sacrifice so much every day so that we can grow in our careers, build companies, and live peacefully in this great country. That's why I'm using this forum to talk to my peers in business.
Whether you are a veteran or simply a proud patriot who hasn’t had the opportunity to serve, here is just one of many ways to do so. We are trying to raise $250,000 for a restricted fund at the Carrick Brain Center in Dallas so that Elliott can continue his treatment and ongoing fight. Every little bit helps!
Elliot is a true warrior and inspiration to all of us. What will you do when life throws you a curve ball?