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  • Significant support for the VBS business model has come in three forms: a free entrepreneurial course for Veterans; a free entrepreneurial bootcamp for Veterans; and free professional services for Veteran small business start-ups. These three key support services came from three different places: Project Opportunity, sponsored by a local Chamber of Commerce; EBV at Purdue University; and ACPIA through Veterans Fast Launch, a program of SCORE in partnership with the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative. What all three of these services have in common is Walmart, who provided financial support for each and in doing so has taken a leadership role in small business support for Veteran entrepreneurs, both at a local and national level.

    Given Walmart’s major support for hiring Veterans, their actions supporting Veterans in small business are not that surprising. Recently the corporation committed to hiring over 100,000 Veterans. VBS was honored to not only receive the support listed above, but to tell its story and receive public praise from around 50 enthusiastic Associates at a Walmart store in Salisbury, Maryland. Over the past few years there’s been a lot a talk about “reintegrating” Veterans in communities; we often assume that just means getting a Veteran a job or an opportunity. VBS thanks Walmart for supporting our efforts to match Veterans with small business opportunities. Veteran entrepreneurs definitely should check out the free services listed above. They are more than free, they’re helpful and fantastic!

    *Photograph courtesy of Dallas Morning News

  • With the recent complaints about delays in case management at the Veterans Administration, one might think that any innovative idea to help Veterans pursue their small business dreams might just have to be a pipe dream. And even if it was a great idea, it would probably die on the vine due to administrative paralysis. Fortunately for Veterans and VBS, there are some very conscientious individuals and even a few risk takers who work as Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC) in the VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E). VR&E is charged with coordinating custom care programs for disabled Veterans trying to find a new path in life. This can include self-employment, and VR&E has recently encouraged all VRCs to find more ways to help Veterans take entrepreneurial paths.

    Recently, a Veteran VR&E client was able to get care, obtain a disability rating, qualify for the VR&E program, simultaneously pursue both employment and self-employment goal scenarios, and then finally develop and obtain funding for a custom self-employment plan that will also help other Veterans enter the franchise industry. All this was accomplished on a schedule that met important VR&E client expectations and just as importantly, the timing of marketplace requirements. Along the way, VR&E counselors helped secure approvals for new innovative entrepreneurial courses and necessary equipment to implement the plan. The VRC also participated in securing SBA guarantees, a special Service Disabled Veteran loan and finally provided a VA grant. All of financing was deemed feasible and also met market standards.

    Although developing the tool to accelerate VR&E processes was challenging for VR&E at times, the end result will now help more Veterans pursue franchise concepts and their small business dreams. And with the tool, the Veterans can move more comprehensively and at their own pace. Each Veteran and VRC becomes a member of the VetSuccess Team. It appears that just helping the most deserving Veterans succeed in self-employment at VR&E might be a good way to speed-up other processes at the VA, too. VBS was proud to participate in the process. For more information click here.

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