Wounded Marine Helps Veterans Reach Dreams of Small Business Ownership

Kevin Blanchard

By Debbie Gregory.

A roadside bomb in Iraq claimed Marine Corps Cpl. Kevin Blanchard’s leg and severely injured the other. While surgeons worked to fix the damage to his body, Kevin spent months deciding on and building a new career path.

Blanchard thought he wanted to open an environmentally friendly roofing company. His heart told him otherwise. He longed to support other Marines and service members as they navigated their new futures, especially as they embarked on the long and sometimes bumpy road of opening a business.

A chance meeting at a public affairs conference led him to the International Franchise Association, where he was eventually hired as a project coordinator, after making a connection at the conference. At the company, Blanchard works on the VetFran project, which helps Veterans who want to venture into a franchise ownership.

The VetFran program can provide discounts to veterans as they enter the franchise business, as well as online franchising courses, a skills and attributes assessment, finance assessment and access to the company’s mentoring network.

Blanchard said the program is designed to build confidence and financial stability in Veterans as they become franchise owners.

“You have to trust in yourself,” he said. “It is not always easy to start a business venture yourself. Have confidence in your abilities and be fearless, because you are taking a shot in the dark.”

Currently, Blanchard is working on a master’s degree in management, with the goal of owning several franchise units in the fitness industry. He also hopes to continue to help other veterans as they work toward their own goals of owning a business.

His advice to Veterans as they start down that path: “stay focused, identify a long-term vision as clearly as possible, and communicate that vision frequently to your team. They should also remember that businesses need to grow, and in order to grow a business you need a clear vision, financial stability and to work ‘on’ their business, and not always ‘in’ their business.,”  He continued, “This means constant sales and marketing, improving operational procedures and innovation. Think about it this way: if the goal is increased profit, then everything you do should directly increase profitability, if it doesn’t, then you should re-evaluate.”

Veterans Battle Joblessness

Veterans Battle Joblessness

By Debbie Gregory.

Various organizations have been formed to promote veteran employment. Military veterans who are transitioning into civilian life are still finding it difficult to land a job. Our military veterans have served this country faithfully, and deserve the best post military employment.

The Federal Government has a long and outstanding record of employing veterans. Veterans have technical skills in areas of critical importance, and many Veterans have the security clearances required for some Federal positions. Federal service provides a means for veterans to continue their noble service to this country.

Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, was launched in March 2011 as a nationwide initiative to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment.

Hiring Our Heroes has hosted more than 530 hiring fairs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Through December 31, 2012, more than 18,400 veterans and military spouses had obtained jobs.  As Hiring Our Heroes enters its third year, they are developing online programs to complement the hiring fairs in order to better address the systemic employment issues facing veterans, transitioning servicemembers and military spouses.

MilitaryConnection.com is a leader in the military and veteran realms for connecting prime military candidates with outstanding career opportunities in both the government and civilian sectors. The military jobs section of our site serves as a portal to many of the jobs available in the government sector and can serve as a crucial element in any job search. MilitaryConnection.com offers a multitude of career-related information and resources to those interested in pursuing a career in a government job after their active military service is complete. The best thing about using MilitaryConnection.com’s resources they are all free to users. Register as a job seeker to gain access to the thousands of jobs advertised daily on our site. It is free and can make a world of difference in your job search.

SBA Designs Program for Military Women

SBA Designs

By Debbie Gregory.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides resources to help women business owners to succeed, providing information on everything from how to register a woman veteran business to hiring a first employee. The SBA is available to help you start and grow a small business.

Along with the American Legion and Syracuse University, the SBA is offering a two-day entrepreneurial course titled “For Her Entrepreneurship – Resources, Opportunities, Experiences and Support.”  The course is specifically designed for women military veterans and military spouses, and is free of charge.

Going into business can help military women veterans transition back into civilian life. New research has found that of 800 female business owners with military experience, 46% said owning their own business has helped their transition to civilian life.

Most of the veteran woman entrepreneurs have credited their time in the military for inspiring them to start a business. Other responses showed that owning a small business held the same appeal and challenges to women veterans as to anyone else.

One program helping female vets overcome their business woes is the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC). Created by a partnership between Capital One and Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence,  the WVEC is a training program for small businesswomen who are veterans or spouses of veterans, to help grow their business.

Another source for assistance in becoming a veteran business owner is the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA). The non-profit trade association serves the needs of the veteran and military business communities by uniting veterans and military business owners for connections and contracts with both private corporations and government agencies.

VAMBOA was founded by Debbie Gregory, who has years of successful interaction with the military and veteran communities and is dedicated to those who serve, past and present.

El Paso Electric (EPE) is a regional electric utility providing generation, transmission and distribution service. EPE’s principal industrial and large customers include steel production, copper and oil refining, and United States military installations

Whenever economically feasible, EPE strives to contract with small businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and/or service-disabled veterans. In the state of Texas, such firms are collectively known as historically underutilized businesses (HUBs).

EPE encourages its qualifying suppliers to obtain Small Disadvantaged Business, or HUBZone, certification from the SBA. They track and report on business done with companies that have SBA certification and on businesses owned by minorities, women and veteran women.

Contact the SBA to help you determine if your business is recognized as large or small. They will ask for your NAICS code, and your relevant revenue or employment data.

Air Force Physician Honored for Ground-breaking Treatment


By Debbie Gregory.

A major military medical improvement is coming in the field of dermatology and plastic surgery, specifically in the recovery and care for wounded warrior burn victims.

Laser use in the field of military medicine is steadily growing. This growth is based on the versatility of laser light. The characteristics of laser light are defined by its wavelength, pulsed or continuous wave operation as well as its average power. The unique capabilities to tailor laser light to a particular application opens up a wide space for laser tissue interaction.

59th Medical Specialty Squadron Dermatologist Lt. Col. (Dr.) Chad Hivnor treats battle scars on troops injured in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom using a fractional laser.  Dr. Hivnor was recently selected to receive the Air Force Association’s Paul W. Myers Award for his work using lasers to improve skin texture and flexibility for wounded warriors. The increase in soldiers with bad burns, many of which result in amputation, has driven Dr. Hivnor’s quest to develop a better solution for scar treatment. The fractional CO2 laser treat scars, which not only helps the skin develop and heal better from the base up, but also helps it to soften and relax, greatly improving the comfort and range of motion. Dr Hivnor tells some great stories about how these new scar treatments have made a huge difference to the lives of these wounded warriors.

Due to advances in medical care, the number of individuals who survive serious burns has increased in the U.S. to approximately 1 million per year. Unfortunately, many of those surviving burn victims have severe disfigurements. These people include injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fractional ablative lasers have become an amazing tool for correcting both the aesthetic and functionality issues presented by serious burn scars. The laser vaporizes the scar by heating the skin up to greater than 100°C. The scarred area is replaced by brand new healthy collagen. Over a series of treatments, the skin appears much more normal.

Scar treatment techniques continue to develop as ongoing global conflict causes greater numbers of military personnel suffering from severe scarring, particularly from burns. Such scars look bad, but they usually cause a loss in function that can have a great impact upon the sufferers’ lives.