Job Opportunities for Veterans
Magazine

Winning Battles for Vetpreneurs

In the fall of 2010 and 2011, President Obama called for the creation of two joint task forces: the Department of Defense-Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force and the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, led by the Small Business Administration. Approximately 15% of veterans going through TAP are interested in SBA programs, says Rhett Jeppson, associate administrator, SBA Office of Veterans Business Development. Operation Boots to Business is a program that teaches returning service members how to start and develop a business. It is taught on base as part of the new TAP by SBA and its resource partners. The course curriculum was developed in conjunction with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.

Vernice "Flygirl" Armour

The Obama administration’s emphasis on small business entrepreneurship will help veterans play a huge role in the recovery of the U.S. economy, says Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, America’s first African American female combat pilot. After serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the former U.S. Marines captain started a consulting and multinational speaking business. “Our young folks can transition out of the military and struggle and look for a job and end up homeless–or we can give them the tools they need that will supplement their leadership training,” says Armour.

Flying solo as a business owner may prove challenging. Veterans owning sole proprietorships don’t have the support of a platoon or squad team. “There are definitely times when you feel as if you’re alone and as if it’s combat in corporate America,” says Armour.

Armour once heard in response to the statistic that 95% of businesses fail in the first few years that they don’t actually fail–their owners give up. But Armour, who describes her ideas in her book, Zero to Breakthrough (Gotham Books; $25), asks how we can help business owners make the right decisions and give them the resources they need. The military approach of “one mission, one goal, one team” is key to business success. “Sometimes life builds a wall high enough to see if you’re willing to work hard to get over it,” Armour muses. “One component that veterans bring to the fight is what I call a breakthrough mentality. Accomplish the mission–failure is not an option.”

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