If there is anyone who knows what it means to be a warrior, it is Air Force Veteran D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas. D.J. Vanas travels around the country speaking at conventions packed with audience members, giving motivational presentations that teach people how to find their unique warrior spirit.

You might be wondering, what exactly is the warrior spirit? Tribal nations, Fortune 500 companies, the military, and even the White House on two occasions have hired Vanas to answer that question. This episode of Borne the Battle offers the opportunity to hear him describe what exactly it means to embody the warrior spirit.

Modern American culture often over romanticizes the warrior role and makes it out to be something unrealistic. Vanas brings the term back down to earth and emphasizes the beauty of imperfection, especially the warrior’s ability to learn and grow from mistakes.

Leading by example, in this episode of Borne the Battle, Vanas talks about his life’s highs and lows:

  • The life changing moment he learned of his appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Struggling to learn how to take responsibility when starting out in the Academy
  • Serving as the Academy’s youngest Chief of Minority Enrollment
  • Grappling with managing his military duties while also building up his speaking business
  • Developing a network and building the momentum he needed to reach the professional height he is at today

Vanas sympathizes with the challenges that many face when leaving the military. Part of embodying the warrior spirit entails being flexible and leveraging the many skills we honed while in the military to build our new tribe, and then using those skills to make our communities a better and brighter place.

To learn more about the warrior spirit, PBS hosted a program featuring Vanas teaching audiences how to tap into their slumbering warrior spirit.

Being a warrior does not mean facing life’s struggles alone. It is okay to feel overwhelmed and it is okay to not always know the answer. We might not be bulletproof, but as Vanas argues, being a warrior means rising over and over again and to keep moving forward one step at a time.


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By Calvin Wong is an intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. He studies History as an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.

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Published on Nov. 1, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 536

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