Honoring Those Who Serve and Sacrifice with Help Starting A Business

Earlier this year, I posted a tweet about a dinner I was attending as a volunteer mentor to the Veteran’s Entrepreneur Program. There were several inquiries after my tweet, and I promised to tell you more.

So today, Memorial Day, I wanted to mention this program again and provide some links for those who might know a disabled veteran who could benefit.

I was honored to be included through the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) as a mentor at a dinner for disabled veterans aspiring to become entrepreneurs by participating in the Oklahoma State University Veteran’s Entrepreneur Program (VEP).

VEP is a boot camp for disabled veterans that provides a full program to educate and jump start new businesses.

Here is a description of the program from a recent press release:

Veterans with Disabilities Entrepreneurship Program, known as VEP, is an entrepreneurial training program that provides the business support and resources necessary for disabled soldiers returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. The program aims at developing viable approaches for turning veterans’ business ideas into workable business models, helping them create their own companies, and making their ventures sustainable.

My part was very small, but the veterans I met were extraordinary.

Starting a business is difficult for anybody. These guys, many of whom were already months to years into their ventures, were doing it while coping with recent, serious injuries and disabilities.

I met one young Navy veteran who successfully runs  his own photography business while missing a lot of both hands. His photos are great, but his attitude is extraordinary.

I met another veteran who had suffered a serious TBI, and now is starting his own nation-wide exotic and classic automobile brokerage. He has an uphill battle, but he obviously has the expertise, the contacts, and the passion to make it happen. And he was having fun doing it.

Another veteran, who had suffered a spinal injury, was an experienced entrepreneur who ran an information technology firm serving the US State Department. He had great stories to tell about flying into Eastern European embassies to secure and manage the local servers and infrastructure for critical diplomatic missions.

I certainly learned a lot more from these veterans about perseverance and bravery in the short time we had together than they could have learned from me about entrepreneurship!

The program is taking applications for 2011. Here is the program brochure. The program is free for qualifying veterans.

I can’t think of any better way to honor those who have sacrificed in service to our country, and to remember those who didn’t make it home, than to empower those who did return to become confident, independent, successful entrepreneurs. Their service enables the American Dream for all of us. They should have a chance to live a part of it.

If you know a veteran who could benefit, please be sure to provide them this link, and I’d be happy to put them in touch with the program’s directors.

Need help with your business? Contact JumpPhase.com

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This blog is dedicated to providing advice, tools and encouragement from one entrepreneur to another. I want to keep this practical and accessible for the new entrepreneur while also providing enough sophistication and depth to prove useful to the successful serial entrepreneur. My target rests somewhere between the garage and the board room, where the work gets done and the hockey stick emerges.

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