Veterans Program Gives Former Soldiers Entrepreneurial Training and Support

J. Michael Haynie, executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and the Barnes professor of entrepreneurship at Whitman, is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. In his post-service role as a professor, it weighed on him that more could be done for military veterans, particularly those with disabilities. He felt that education could mean empowerment and the potential for a productive civilian life.

The Executive Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program was launched at Whitman in 2007 and has expanded to a network of eight university partners. More than 890 veterans have gone through the program, which was profiled by special correspondent Sanjay Gupta in a segment on CBS’ 60 Minutes. More than 50 percent of graduates start businesses within four months of completing the training. Many have launched ventures that have revenues in the millions of dollars.

Garrett Anderson, a former radio operator in the Marine Corps, turned to the EBV for help launching a production company. Anderson, like an estimated 600,000 other veterans, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He and his business partner launched their first film, The November War, which features 12 marines from Anderson’s unit recounting their battle in Fallujah.

“EBV helped me understand that what we have been through was much harder than starting a business,” explained Garrett. “The road ahead requires the same self discipline we were all taught in the military, and we can continue to serve our society and communities back home through business ownership.”