Dawn Halfaker_TSEYour Name: Dawn Halfaker

Business Name: Halfaker and Associates, LLC, a firm providing technology solutions for government and companies

Type of Business:Professional Services and Technology Solutions Firm

Business Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Website www.halfaker.com
Twitter @halfaker
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Halfaker-and-Associates-LLC/145722055500191

Reason for starting
On June 19, 2004, my life changed forever when my platoon was ambushed on a patrol mission in Baqubah, Iraq and my career as a military police officer in the United States Army ended abruptly. After a year of recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, I was medically retired from active duty due to my combat injury, earning a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Initially, I was focused on what I had lost. I remember lying in my hospital bed thinking, my life was over. After seeing the indestructible will of my fellow wounded warriors that were recovering from wounds much more severe than mine, my mindset changed. I focused on what I still had, and I felt empowered to do something with my life. I wanted to stay a part of the fight, so I started applying with major defense contractors, but didn’t find a fit. I realized the industry didn’t have a sense of urgency to provide some of the resources the military needed to be effective on the ground. That’s what pushed me to start my company, Halfaker and Associates, LLC. My first gig was focused on medical technology that would save lives on the battlefield, and I built the company off that. Today after seven years in business, we’re still Continuing to Serve and have over 90 employees worldwide.

How do you define success?
I define our team’s success through our dedication to Continue to Serve. Our success is reflected in the service we provide our clients and drives our desire to make a difference in the lives of those around us, our communities, and our Nation’s Veterans and wounded warriors. We recently developed a Continuing to Serve Committee that provides our employees with an opportunity to connect and help plan our Corporate Social Responsibility events for the year. In the past year, we helped serve food in a DC soup kitchen, sponsored a Wheelchair basketball game, organized a blood drive through the American Red Cross, participated in a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery, and sponsored a race to collectively raise over $100,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Biggest Success
My biggest success has been helping other Veterans in their transition from the service by offering them meaningful careers and a chance to Continue to Serve with Halfaker and Associates. I know first-hand the benefits that hiring Veterans provides, including their incredible flexibility and ability to make difficult decisions under pressure. Hiring a Veteran is investing in someone whom you can have an inherent ability to trust, is well versed in team building, has a high level of resiliency and exhibits strong organizational commitment. The procedures we’ve implemented to specifically recruit and onboard Veterans have provided big returns on investment for our Company—the unique skill set that Veterans often bring has fueled our explosive revenue growth in a downed economy.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Initially, my biggest challenge was overcoming the devastation of losing my right arm and my identity and career as an Army officer. The turning point for me came when I was wheeled into the physical therapy room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and I saw the determination of the other wounded Veterans that had wounds much more severe than mine. Seeing their will to thrive helped me focus not on what I had lost, but on what I still had. Since that initial challenge, my biggest challenge in running my own company has been finding the right talent. We’ve grown so quickly that it has been hard to find team members that can continue to fit our culture and remain committed to our mission as we grow. As we’ve matured our business processes, I’ve made it a priority to not just fill our open positions, but to find the right talent to join our team.

Who is your most important role model?
My most important role model is my fellow wounded warriors that are dealing with similar struggles and challenges in moving forward following their injuries. Eight years ago, they were the ones who turned my outlook on life around. Today, they continue to be some of my closest friends. I think that since we were so close to giving it all for our country, we have a sense of urgency to make something of our lives. Unfortunately, not all wounded warriors are so lucky. Many have wounds too severe to overcome. Seeing those that struggle to adjust motivates me to keep building my company to be able to offer transitioning service members a meaningful career and to continue advocating on their behalf through my work with the Wounded Warrior Project.