It can be difficult for vets to determine what comes next when their service time is over. Many are turning to business as the next step in their professional lives. Robert Dyer (Navy) created the nutritional supplement RuckPack; Todd Fisher (Army) went on to found two communication technology companies; John Raferty (Marines) got a degree in accounting and started his own construction company. And entrepreneurship is only one way to go when it comes to putting military training to work in the business world: John Oros (Army) is now Managing Director at J.C. Flowers & Co., a financial services company. These are only a few examples of vets who took their training one step further by getting into business.
Vets frequently take advantage of advanced training and educational opportunities after their tours of duty to transition into civilian life. Dyers’s RuckPack nutritional supplement exists in large part because of the support of his Navy contacts, as well as his Masters in financial management, which he earned from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
In fact, according to the Small Business Association’s Office of Advocacy, vets are 45% more likely to go into entrepreneurship than those without military experience. As of May 2011, veterans owned 2.4 million businesses–that’s 9% of all businesses nationwide! And they’re able to do so thanks to support from government agencies, colleges and universities, and private sector training.
Sometimes that training comes unexpectedly. Former Marine John Raferty, who served from 1999 to 2003, returned to civilian life with a disability and some uncertainty about how to proceed. Using his GI Bill benefits, he earned a degree in accounting. Then he received an unsolicited email from Syracuse University’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities–a free, week-long intensive business training course. Thanks to that training, he launched a property management business in 2007.
Congress continues to work to provide vets with opportunities to educate themselves and get involved in business. A bill currently making the rounds and achieving bipartisan support would allow post-9/11 vets to use their GI Bill benefits as collateral for business startups. Sponsored by Senators Jerry Moran, R-KS, and Jon Tester, D-MT, the bill has won unanimous support in the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. With an estimated 550 service members transitioning from military to civilian life daily, this kind of bill could be a great way to help them get the education and training they need to support themselves and their families. This bill would pay full tuition for public colleges and universities, as well as a national maximum rate for private schools. It would also cover vocational training