Sarah Plummer Taylor is on a roll. The 34-year-old founder of both SEMPERSarah.com, a wellness mentoring brand, and Just Roll With It Wellness LLC, a resiliency training and education company, keeps a busy schedule of international travel, speaking, coaching, writing, and teaching. Her powerful drive to help people transition from trauma has not gone unnoticed. From the Katie Couric Show to NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams to repeat appearances on HuffPost Live and MSNBC to one-on-one and group coaching sessions, Plummer Taylor is advancing her mission to teach resiliency to those who need it most.
Plummer Taylor, a University of Virginia graduate, left active duty six years ago after serving as a U.S. Marine Intelligence Officer for seven years. Her military service, which included two deployments to Iraq and several years as a Military Olympian, equipped her well for the work she does today.
“People are hungry for guidance, leadership, and role models as they work to transition from miserable situations to being happy and healthy,” said Plummer Taylor. “My goal is to reach people who might feel isolated by their trauma, to connect with them through my own story, and to equip them with tools for wellness.”
On her most pivotal experiences while serving
Despite some particularly challenging active duty experiences, Plummer Taylor’s first pivotal military moment came during her final years at the University of Virginia when she switched from Air Force ROTC to Marine ROTC.
“I went against the advice of almost everyone in my life to make that switch,” said Plummer Taylor. “As a young adult, tapping into my intuitive wisdom for the first time was really powerful. Even though the Marine Corps contained some of my toughest challenges, and even when the proverbial shit hit the fan, I was able to accept it all because I had chosen that path.”
A second critical moment occurred when Plummer Taylor was raped by a close friend and fellow midshipman just before receiving her commission. The event called into question everything Plummer Taylor thought she knew about military camaraderie, her goals, and her future.
Still, Plummer Taylor pressed forward and accepted her commission. She also sought counseling. The move – despite assurances to the contrary – was penalized with a medical disqualification from flight school, and she was reclassified as an intelligence officer.
Though Plummer Taylor was initially frustrated and disillusioned by the move, the transfer into the intel field turned out to be a good fit.
“Intelligence work combines geography, imagery, sociology, anthropology, and intelligence analysis,” she noted. “It’s the perfect combination of my favorite academic disciplines.”
Plummer Taylor’s current focus on teaching resilience to veterans and civilians alike is heavily informed by her years of experience in the intelligence field.
“Today, my technical skillset is about health and wellness, but it still falls under the larger umbrella of understanding people,” Plummer Taylor said. “The more perspectives you have on the human condition the better.”
On what she took away from the military
Plummer Taylor’s first months as a newly commissioned second lieutenant represent a series of particularly intimidating moments. Still, she credits those early experiences of feeling scared but doing the work anyway with her ability to be bold in business today.
“As an entrepreneur, you have a lot of moments when you feel fear,” Plummer Taylor said, “but you have to move through it.”
Since leaving active duty in 2009, Plummer Taylor has had ample opportunity to flex her mentorship, leadership, and self-discipline muscles.
“Being a motivated person is – in some ways – almost harder outside the military,” she said. “You don’t have that structure anymore. But you do have a type of muscle memory – a certain temperament that’s been developed, and I rely on those key elements to operate effectively.”
Her advice for transitioning veterans
“Approach your transition from a place of curiosity rather than fear,” Plummer Taylor advises. “Don’t focus on what you’re giving up, but on the new journey you’re about to embark upon.”
The myriad resources available to transitioning veterans – from free yoga classes to professional development opportunities to entrepreneurial support – should be met with a sense of openness, flexibility, and gratitude, says Plummer Taylor.
“It’s interesting how it can all come together,” she said. “You can adapt what worked in the military to a new environment – you don’t have to recreate the wheel. I mean, I turned “SEMPER” into an acronym that works in the private sector.”
Sarah’s book, Just Roll With It, will be traditionally (re)published by house, Innovo Publishing, in late 2015. Sign up for Sarah’s free e-newsletter to get her updates and helpful, inspirational posts.
* updates to married name and relevant details for 2015 have been made.