The veterans

Joshua Oakley (MBA ’17)

Joshua Oakley has been wheeling and dealing in real estate and other enterprises since he earned his graduate degree from DU’s Daniels College of Business in 2017.

The Green Beret, Special Forces commander and war veteran serves with the Colorado National Guard since leaving the Army, works at ARCTOS space and intelligence, and he and his wife run the Hydration + Wellness Bar they opened in Colorado Springs.

He also consults for the U.S. Space Force. And as if that weren’t enough, Oakley is president of the board for Veterans Expeditions, a Salida-based national nonprofit.

He joined Veterans Expeditions in 2014 while still in the Army, driving to a condo the group had rented in Ouray. “I showed up in the middle of the night. Everyone was asleep on the floor. I thought, ‘This is going to be terrible.’ But the next morning, it was awesome—an amazing group of people from every service.

“I thought, ‘Hey, these are my folks.’ Eventually I was asked to come on the board. I’ve been with them ever since.”

Oakley, 38, calls the expeditions the best wilderness therapy model. “There’s no need to come and circle up and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ There’s honestly very little sitting around telling war stories. It’s just how great the outdoors is, and it just comes out naturally. It tests people, and you just see that joy come out of those sorts of experiences. Anyone who does anything physically challenging can relate to that.”

Oakley’s military roots run deep. He earned his BA in biology at the U.S. Air Force Academy, headed a platoon at Fort Carson, led a 17-member team that worked with Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army in Najaf Province, became a Special Forces officer, commanded a Special Forces team and then worked as a veritable CEO, overseeing all Special Operations Forces’ deployments, actions and activities in the “host country of focus.” 

But, he says, “All my skills were sort of self-taught, to a certain extent were largely theory and not practice. But DU was able to provide me the expertise, which was the impetus for wanting to go from military service to round out and refine those self-taught skills and utilize them in practice. It took a couple of years to come to fruition, but it definitely gave me the confidence to say, ‘Yes, I know what I’m talking about.’”

At DU, Oakley helped colleague Jeni Hunniecutt recreate the dormant Student Veterans Association. He also worked with DU’s Sturm Center, a behavioral health resource for veterans, service members and their families, helping to tailor its fundraising and research expenditures.  

“Josh is driven and has a personality that doesn’t quit,” says Damon Vine, director of DU’s Veterans Services. “I think it’s fed by his passion for vets and for helping people. Now he’s president of the [Veterans Expeditions] board. That’s a pretty cool thing.”

Oakley and Hunniecutt hosted several events for veterans during his two years on campus, as they tried to build a community of student veterans. Told that those events are still held four years later, he says, “Oh really? Very cool.”

Now Oakley and his wife, Jayme, provide intravenous hydration, injectable B vitamins and other therapies at their wellness bar near the north gate of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

“My wife is a nurse practitioner,” he says. “She does all the work. I do the back-end work, accounting, insurance, all those things.” 

As for his commitment to fellow veterans—whether at war, at DU or at Veteran Expeditions—Oakley says: “All those people have done as much for me as I’ve done for them. It’s definitely a two-way street.”

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