Veteran Entrepreneur Profile: Julie Saatoff

Written by: Brady Drake

Rocket Dogs K-9 Aquatics & Wellness Center LLC (November 2019)

“I’m a disabled vet and can’t work. I have health issues and can’t tolerate doing many everyday tasks, but I can work with dogs and I can do water therapy.”

Branch: U.S. Army

Years Served: 4

First Job After Service: I used my GI bill to attended Nursing School as I had three kids to raise on my own. My first job was as a nurse. I was determined to give my kids a good home by myself.

Did you use military benefits when starting Rocket Dogs K-9 Aquatics & Wellness Center?

There were no benefits available for me. Thanks to Paul Smith, with the small business program, he helped get a bank to back me. That was the hardest part. Getting a bank to finance me. It was a struggle not to give up but being a veteran I was not about to give up and by the grace of God and my unwillingness to give up is paying off.

Military skill most used in business: My military experience gave me the strength to go forward. I can do anything if I set my mind to it.  It gave me the tools, strength, self-esteem, and the wisdom to move forward with a dream that nobody thought I would accomplish.

What changed that made you want to start a business?

My medical issues got in the way of my nursing career and interfered with going to school to be a veterinary technician. Dogs are my passion so I got involved with dock dogs and from there decided that it would be awesome if dogs could swim and practice all year. Then I thought with our North Dakota winters, wouldn’t it be awesome if hunters could keep their dogs conditioned during the offseason. I then decided to put all my thoughts, training and experience to work. 

What words of encouragement do you have for fellow veteran entrepreneurs?

Go for it if it’s your passion. I put up everything I own for Rocket Dogs, but my kids are grown and I feel like I really have nothing to lose. I would have lost myself if I didn’t try.
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?

Trying to fit in after I experienced war was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve been lost for years trying to keep up with modern technology and trying to fit in. Since I have started this journey, when I should be retiring, I have met some amazing people. If you have a dream, fight for it. Don’t give up, don’t quit, use your experience to gain prosperity where you never thought possible.

Here is the list of other Veteran Entrepreneurs we sat down with:

Troy Derheim

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