Veteran Entrepreneur: Brittany Schank

Written by: Brady Drake

Photo by Hilary Ehlen

Solace Counseling (Opened June 2019)

Solace Counseling provides counseling services in Fargo North Dakota. Additionally, I provide telehealth counseling for those who are unable to meet in person due to living in a rural location, difficulty taking time off of work or due to a disability. I specialize in seeing clients who are moms in the thick of mommyhood, sexual assault survivors and other professionals in the community. Brittay Schank

Branch: Air National Guard

Years Served: 13

First Job After Service: Knowledge Operations Management (Administration)

Did you use military benefits used when starting Solace Counseling?
Yes, I heard about the Center for Technology & Business at a Yellow Ribbon Event. I went to their office and they really got me started on everything I needed, such as places to look for office space, starting a business plan and options for mentorship opportunities. 

Military skill most used in business: Perseverance. The military starts your career off with basic training, which tests your ability to keep going despite the difficulty of the task. Owning a business is just that. The tasks can be difficult. There are many times I had to enter into territory that not only had I not been through before, but literally had no idea how to even begin. I am so grateful to have military experiences that were difficult, trying and also rewarding in the end. 

What changed that made you want to start a business?
I was 18 years old when I entered the military and really didn’t have much of a life plan.  Throughout my years in the military, I have had a lot of mentors guide me and remind me that I can do tough things. While in the military I was eligible for education benefits as well, which allowed me to get my Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s degree without having to sacrifice substantially financially. 

What words of encouragement do you have for fellow veteran entrepreneurs?
Opening a business is a leap of faith. We truly never know if we are actually going to be successful or not. It’s very different from gaining employment at an agency. If the agency fails, we don’t necessarily take on guilt nor do we feel shameful. When your own business fails, you can feel like a failure. The truth is though, if you have a burning desire inside of you and you don’t take the leap, that’s failure in itself. 

Many veterans struggle with finding a sense of purpose when reintegrating into the civilian world. How can getting involved in the business community help with that reintegration process?
We have an absolutely phenomenal business community here in Fargo. One of the things I was so shocked about it how much the business community cheers each other on. There is this sense among local mental therapists that all of us want what is best for the clients and competing against each other doesn’t make sense. We root for each other, cheer each other on and share our knowledge. My husband also owns his own lawn care business, and their community is constantly sending referrals to each other. It’s a beautifully supportive community. 

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.