Steve Kennedy is not a guy to get panicked easily. When the financial crisis hit in late 2008, this TowneBank advisor in Newport News, Va., was a symbol of calm in the storm, a reassuring force for anxious clients.

Kennedy attributes his ability to handle that crisis to his background as a U.S. Army sharpshooter in a unit of the Fourth Infantry Division, based in Colorado, an experience that he says gave him "discipline, mental toughness and the ability to keep your wits when all is going to hell around you."

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