Too often, former military members come out of the service and live their day to day missing something that was a big part of their lives for so long. I, too, missed the military’s camaraderie, but the co-working community at Geekdom has filled that void for me, and I imagine it could do the same for many others.

Veterans in general have a “find a way, make a way” attitude. Coming to Geekdom was a good fit when I started thinking about entrepreneurship. Geekdom, USAA, Bunker Labs, and Patriot Boot Camp provide the military community with unique options if they want to be a part of this incubator community and tech space. But Geekdom isn’t just about tech. While my business does have to do with technology, a larger part of it focuses on the involvement with the young men and women who are in the startup community with me.

I’m not a tech guy. My primary focus lies in promoting STEM education and getting 3D printers into the hands of every K-12 student. That’s where the value of Geekdom really comes into play for me. I’m from Round Rock, so it’s not exactly a drive down the street for me to get here – but coming to Geekdom gives me a place to be in the business mindset.

Last year, I participated in Catapult Weekend, which took place at Geekdom’s Event Centre during Veteran’s Day weekend. I was introduced to the Geekdom culture, toured of the facility, and engaged with other entrepreneurs, startup founders, and business-minded people. It opened my eyes to the opportunities that exist in this community. I became friends with other military-related companies and mentors because they could relate to me being a solider who had just transitioned from the military to civilian life. It’s a new way of being, and without having someone to lean on, you can end up lost or lacking direction.

Being a part of Geekdom has given me access to so many tools, in part because a lot of other people have businesses here. I’m able to leverage the relationships I’ve built so far and tie others’ businesses into what I’m working on and vice versa. Without Geekdom and USAA’s involvement, this would not have been possible, because I didn’t have the funds necessary to rent an office.

At Geekdom, we’re in our own little battle space, if you will. You’re surrounded by like-minded people, and that camaraderie is what a lot of military members getting out of the service miss. They pine for that instant mutual understanding that goes without saying. At Geekdom, you’re part of a team again. The only difference is that the camaraderie now exists within the tech space.

Like in the service, Geekdom members are here to lend a helping hand. I’ve visited other veteran service organizations in the area and discussed with them the opportunities that Geekdom has presented me, as well as how to get those utilizing VSO services to this space if they’re interested in starting up in the tech business.

Transitioning to civilian life in “Military City, USA” was a blessing. There are so many others that have been on journeys similar to mine, as have their spouses and people in their networks. I’m convinced that this kind of military support is uniquely San Antonian.

My hope is that veterans trying to find their niche in their new lives look to the growing startup community in San Antonio and consider what it has to offer. I believe there is value in coming here that exceeds simply having a place to work and network.

So, my message to my fellow veterans and military members is this: There are growing opportunities for you after you leave the service, as well as an entire startup community waiting with open arms to embark on that new journey with you.

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Ben Fennen

Ben Fennen is a veteran and founder of VeTech3D, a company that specializes in creating and implementing innovative technology and design for today's markets. He serves as a mentor and guide post to others...