Jen is a business owner and a podcast host. Her business US VetWealth is about providing thought, provoking financial education, and flexible financial solutions for career military families. Jen’s Podcast is called Holding Down the Fort. Not only is her podcast award winning but it is a great tool for military families! Jen’s husband served in the army. She met him after his service. As a Gold Star daughter, her dad also served in the Navy. Jens father passed away in 1998, his last duty station was in Japan, in Yokosuka, Japan. Jen and her husband currently live in Virginia Beach.
When did you start your business & what made you decide this career path? I guess that depends on which business you’re talking about. But I will talk about the one that I do with my husband, I can’t say we have a specific year as to when we started the business. I got involved in 2016. So I’m just going to say that as the year I got involved, working with my husband in 2016. And it was around 2018. When we moved over to the east coast. We were both in San Diego at the time. We met in San Diego and decided to do business together. We came out to the east coast, specifically Virginia Beach, Virginia. We came out here on 2018. We were in Richmond, Virginia for a couple months. But we don’t really talk a lot about that story, because we were really just there for a short time. I ended up joining him because I was already seeking closure in my second business venture. Before I met my husband, I was in sales. And then I ran my own business and for about five to six years. And then, I decided to work with him. At the beginning, I wore a lot of hats. And I still do because we are still a very, very small team, and primarily commission based. But I chose to work with him because I wanted to apply my skill set from running a Social Media Marketing Agency, a very boutique one, between 2013 to about 2018. I started to slowly transition from that business to working with my husband. I was looking for something different, I guess you can say. And I didn’t realize what I would find. There was a part of me that, I guess when he moved out here, I was going to explore a new identity for myself. What I had come to find was, I returned back to my original identity in pursuing this business with my husband, which was unpacking my story as a Gold Star daughter, and realizing how impactful my story is for our career military families today. So you’re probably wondering now what do we do for business? Our company US VetWealth. So like the United States, Vet as an veteran, Wealth as in wealthy. US VetWealth. I like to say that we are all about providing thought provoking financial education and flexible financial solutions for our career military families. This is especially important for me considering how I was in a career military family. My dad had served for 18 years before we unfortunately had lost him and became a Gold Star
family. And also just that transition… Transitioning from the career military life to post military life is such a huge shift for our families. And so it’s just been special demographic that my husband and I like to focus on. He also has his own story. His transition wasn’t very smooth or it wasn’t what he had wanted. So we have just a special place for our career military families, a special place in our heart to be serving
Where have you lived and what has been your favorite base?
As a military child, we mainly PCS’d from Japan to California, and we moved every two to three years. I would say my most favorite duty station was actually Yokosuka, Japan because that’s where I had most of my memories as a kid and, as I got older. I had friends there, and it just felt so safe there. We used to live off base, I think for the first two years. We were on the waiting list to get on base. I just remember being off base that I was able to go cycling by myself as a kid. I think I was like eight or nine years old cycling by myself going from, our home and going all the way to the military base. And oddly enough, I don’t know how I knew how to get to the military base by myself because we didn’t have GPS at the time. But I managed to make my way to the military base and show my military ID card. And I think I remember seeing my mom or dad on base, and they were like, “Wait, how did you get here?” They’re like, “Did someone drop you off?” I was like, “No, I cycled here.” And they’re like, “Wait, what like by yourself?” I still remember that memory. And I really don’t know how I managed to do that by myself at eight years old, eight or nine years old. You know, in a country where I didn’t know the dialect. But that’s one of my fond memories is just how safe it felt to be that independent at such a young age, living off base. So I would say Yokosuka, Japan Naval Base was my favorite. And also, tragically, it was the last base that my family was at before we had lost my dad.
what’s the biggest challenge of being a military spouse and pursuing your career?
Well, I’m going to talk about this in a different perspective because, again, I met my husband after his service so I mainly identify more so as a veteran spouse. I think the most interesting thing about being a veteran spouse, working with the military community with my husband is that people expect me to know my husband’s resume. They expect me to know the history of his service and what he did and what his ranks were, and just all the stuff that he did. He had already transitioned out. He transitioned out around, I believe, 2008. And we had met in 2015-16. So he
had already been well out of the service. And so it’s interesting when people talk about my husband, and they ask me about his resume when I’m thinking, “Is that really all I am – is being able to recite his portfolio?” Even though I wasn’t active duty military spouse, I think I can sort of sense what it feels like to be an active duty military spouse and live under your service member’s shadow in a sense and kind
of being dependent on their identity. I very much had still felt that, even with my husband post-military life, working with the military community today. But either way, I was still able to find my identity, be a whole person, and show up as a whole person in our business. One thing in our business is that the majority of the colleagues that I had were veterans, and I brought in that military family perspective. And so I think the biggest challenge would be just kind of that assumption or that narrative you can easily tell yourself that you live under your service member’s shadow. The way that I overcame that was really owning my own story as a Gold Star daughter and seeing how that adds my own perspective on the table amongst my colleagues, and also
how I can really connect with the career military families today.
What are your other hobbies? In regards to my hobbies, the two new hobbies that I picked up during the pandemic is swimming. I actually don’t like crowded gyms. But since the pandemic, they let you reserve your lane in advance at the pool. That’s something I got really excited about. I actually haven’t swam as far as I can recall for 20 years. I can say 20 years because my last fond memory of really being in a pool was in Yokosuka Naval Base. I think they had an Olympic pool there from what I can recall. I remember just floating on the deep end just enjoying being in the water. But since then, I’ve had skin irritations like eczema specifically. I’ve just always had this excuse that I can’t swim because it’s bad for my skin. But since the pandemic, I needed to find a way to still exercise that wasn’t hard on my joints. And so swimming became that. And then the other hobby that I picked up is rollerblading. I actually started that a couple years ago, but I revived that hobby again, during the pandemic, so I can exercise with my dog. Funny enough, my husband decided to do that with me as
well. So we’re going to be starting to rollerblade together as a family. So it’s going to be a ton of fun. I guess another hobby, which is sort of not a hobby, is podcasting. I started podcasting as a hobby sort of, I say, sort of because it was more like an experiment. And then it became a hobby, and then it became a business in itself. I do get paid professionally to host a podcast show, and I do have two other shows that I produce and run. That’s been a really fun thing that started off as an experiment, to a
hobby, to what it is today.
what are some benefits of being a military spouse as a business owner? Well, the way that I would answer this question is, in regards to our business, US VetWealth, we are a financial firm that does focus primarily on career military families. I’d say the benefit of being a veteran spouse in our business is that I can bring that military family perspective to our firm, where the majority of my colleagues that I work with are veterans. I really get to understand from the family’s perspective, from the spouse’s perspective, what financial education or what their military benefits mean to them, and how we can come to a collective decision amongst the military spouse and the service member to really maximize or solidify their financial situation for post-military life. It’s great. And just understanding them and understanding, in a sense, like the life that their kids are leading, considering how I did grew up as a military child moving every two to three years. So I would say some of the benefits.
if you could, what advice would you give yourself when you
first started your business? I would get a mentor. That’s it. I would definitely get a mentor because I have a mentor today, and I see a significant difference in my confidence and my faith in what I do, and my resilience. Not that I didn’t have that already but I think it just sped it up, or it just solidified it that much more. So I really encourage everyone that is in business or get started in business or is considering to be in business to get a mentor.
Holding Down the Fort Podcast- www.holdingdownthefortpodcast.com
US VetWealth- www.usvetwealth.com