In the decades since then, however, that number has dropped sharply. In 2014, veterans represented only 5.6 percent of the new entrepreneurs in the United States, according to a report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Some of that could be a result of the emphasis that transition programs have made. In Mr. Scheel’s experience, headhunters tried to place junior officers like himself in finance, consulting or manufacturing jobs, even though he had no interest in these sectors.
In 2011, during the Arab Spring, Mr. Scheel was stationed in Djibouti, where he used a military tool called Blue Force Tracking. The system uses GPS to track soldiers’ locations in real time.
Two years later, Mr. Scheel had finished his service and was working for a large construction company in a copper mine in northern Chile when he realized he could…