Jonathan Wilson
Co-Founder & CEO

SFF provides the support necessary for SEALs to realize their full potential and to continue to serve their new communities, families and employers with the same passion and commitment they had in the teams.

My first transition to civilian life failed—I reenlisted. Failures of others have resulted in far worse.

Following 12 years in a brotherhood where community, team and service meant everything, I found myself in one of the most successful investment banking firms where profit trumped purpose. Like most of my brothers, I don’t give up easily. I knew I had skills and talents that were transferable and relevant. My attitude and work ethic were not to be questioned and I was going to be a success. That’s what I told myself and my family—but that’s not what happened. I was lost and, for the first time in a very long time, faced failure. My employer was sympathetic but wasn’t equipped to help me meet the challenges I faced—to be fair, I couldn’t articulate what those challenges were; I just didn’t belong. My family was as supportive through my transition as they were trough the numerous deployments, but even at home I was lost. I felt like an outsider, and, just like at work, I couldn’t articulate what was going on. There was nothing they could do to help.

It was, of all places, during a funeral for one of my SEAL brothers that it became clear, my only option was reenlistment. So, after 9 months of civilian life, I was back in the Teams. I was happy and content—until I wasn’t.

Two more deployments and I wanted to get back to my family, but I was scared. Why would this transition be any different? I searched for organizations that could relate to my situation, but there were none. Then, during a conversation with my good friend, Brian Martelli, the idea for the SEAL Future Foundation (SFF) was born. Initially our focus was on scholarships, jobs searches, placement and mentoring. We were the destination to ensure SEALs a successful personal and professional transition, but we also wanted to help them live a life of purpose and fulfillment within their communities. We have expended our services to include wellness, mental health and family well-being, an all-encompassing approach to ensure the help they need in one place, from people who understand and have experienced the same challenges.

Founding SFF marked my true transition. I found a purpose and a new way to serve my brothers, by creating an organization where support and community are at their fingertips in a world where this is difficult to find. SFF has helped me recognize where I belong and focus on what’s important. I am back in finance full time and, thanks to the services offered by SFF, I can communicate my needs and expectations with my employer. I am fortunate that they are receptive and interested, and now my success is driven by the same motivators that made me successful in the teams.

SFF’s core, like the core of those it serves, encompasses much more than helping SEALs transition. It provides the support necessary to realize their full potential and to continue to serve our new communities, families and employers with the same passion and commitment we had in the teams. Although some might argue our best days are behind us, SFF helps us realize there are many great days ahead when given the opportunity to shape and continue a life of purpose as we did in the brotherhood.

BE MORE,

Jonathan Wilson
CEO of SEAL Future Foundation
BUD/S Class 252

How hard can it really be? Read these stories:

The warrior culture of the SEAL teams says “no matter how bad things get, we’ll figure it out.” But when you’re by yourself as a civilian it’s completely different. After 13 years of active duty, I faced divorce and became a single dad. I was forced to leave my dream job four months out from opening coffee shop because it didn’t provide the security I needed as a single dad. Failure is not something SEALs are used to. It got dark real fast—the darkness comes from everything we’ve seen over the years setting in when we’re away from the teams and looking for support from people who haven’t been there, don’t understand, and never will.
Read more >

After 15 years in a brotherhood where community, team and service meant everything, I found myself at an incredibly successful investment banking firm where profit trumped purpose. The culture was completely different, but had every intention of being a success. That’s not what happened. I was lost and faced failure. My employer was sympathetic, my family supportive, but I just didn’t belong and couldn’t articulate the challenges. No one could help me. My only option was reenlistment. I was happy and content back in the Teams, until I wasn’t. It wasn’t sustainable. I needed my family and I needed that family to co-exist with a community that could support me the way the brotherhood had. Read more >

My real transition into civilian life happened over a decade after I’d left the military, when I was let go from a job by a SEAL—one if my brothers. It was the hardest thing I’d experienced, even after all my deployments. Until then, I’d been so busy working that I couldn’t focus on my physical or mental health. Broken down emotionally, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. As a 30-year SEAL veteran, I faced greater hiring challenges than a 10-year veteran. On top of the “normal” discrimination facing SEALs, I battled ageism. In the military, you are part of a meritocracy. You rise within the structure based on your ability to perform consistently. It’s very linear. SFF helps you understand this isn’t the case elsewhere. Read more >

My exit from the SEALs was based on school. I finished my undergraduate degree while serving, prepped for GMAT and went right into an MBA from the Teams.  If I’ve learned anything from the brotherhood, it’s that SEALs will seize an opportunity and succeed. The problem is, if you ask a team guy what they want to do in the civilian world, most won’t know.   Read more >