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Vets with Disabilities Trade Boots for Suits

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

military and civilian person in suit exchange handshake

With all the talk of veterans returning home with service-connected disabilities, it’s inspiring to hear about companies that are supporting programs that help veterans, wounded warriors and their families transition back into civilian life, and in particular, find jobs. For example, Hire Disability Solutions held its Global Veterans Career Expo in May for veterans with disabilities and their families, which was attended by blue-chip companies looking to hire from this talent pool.

Another program that’s growing rapidly is Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV), which began in 2007 at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management and trains veterans in entrepreneurship and small business. The program begins with a three-week online course and culminates in the on-campus residency “boot camp.” There is an application, but no cost to participate. On-site classes are followed by 12 months of ongoing support and mentorship from faculty experts and industry professionals.

Now, Syracuse, along with Florida State University, will continue their EBV program success with Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBF-V), which teaches small-business ownership skills to family members who now serve as caregivers of military veterans with service-related disabilities, as well as spouses of those killed in action. FSU classes will start in February 2012 at its Panama City campus.

Many corporations are on hand to make the EBV and other programs financially viable. Ernst & Young is the founding partner of the EBV program, and the Walmart Foundation has pledged a five-year, $10 million commitment to the EBF-V. PepsiCo also supports the EBV program through its Dream Machine recycling initiative, and has committed to $500,000 in support over the next several years, all of which is helping EBV to have a “profound and enduring impact on the lives of so many of our veterans and their families,” says Mike Haynie, the founder and national executive director of EBV programs who is a veteran and an amputee.

Haynie is also the founding director of Syracuse and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s newly created Institute for Veterans and Military Families, a national center focused on the issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. JPMorgan Chase made an initial commitment of $7.5 million to support the institute. Also, JPMorgan Chase and Syracuse teamed up to create a new, tuition-free online Technology Certificate for post-9/11 veterans who are pursuing a career in technology.

It’s heartening to hear how companies are providing financial and other support to help wounded warriors and their families build new dreams and chart a new path towards meaningful employment. These programs demonstrate their commitment to our nation’s heroes and give new meaning to the words “welcome home.”