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February 10, 2015

Finding Your Passion

Finding Your Passion

Written by: Jenny Hale

An important part of the transition to civilian life is finding a new passion after leaving the service. For many, the military is a way of life and many veterans have found that they don’t “qualify” on paper for civilian jobs after separating from their military branch.

In the spring of 2013, Mike Haynie, founder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, spoke to 60 Minutes about transitioning veterans.

The passionate stories of veterans starting their own businesses were featured, as entrepreneurship courses become a solution to the high unemployment rates that plague many veterans. Stories like those from Staff Sergeant Brad Lang of the Marine Corps were told.

After diffusing two IED’s in the field, Lang, a bomb squad volunteer in Afghanistan, began to leave the scene when a third undetected IED was triggered. It rendered him disabled, removing both of his legs in July of 2011. He underwent over 20 surgeries. Lang was 27 years old.

Johnny Morris, his friend from training, had also lost a leg in the war. Together, the two started a gun manufacturing retail store they cleverly named Stumpies. Morris was a gunsmith before he joined the Marines and uses his skills at Stumpies  to make guns that can be adapted for the disabled. They can be found on Facebook here.

Garrett Anderson, also featured in the 60 Minutes story, hoped to start a production company. A U.S. Marine Infantryman, Anderson suffers from PTSD and eventually reached a point where he was contemplating suicide. He knew the war had taken a larger toll on him than originally thought. After completing EBV, Anderson would go on to produce his first documentary in 2013, called The November War. The film features footage from the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq during November of 2004. The trailer can be viewed here.

Both Lang and Anderson completed the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) through the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), allowing them to learn the skills to start a business venture. 65% of the over 900 veteran graduates have since started their own business and 93% of those businesses are still in operation today.

For more information on how to get involved with EBV, please visit their website at www.ebv.vets.syr.edu.

Jenny Hale is currently a Public Relations graduate student at the Newhouse School of Public Communications. Hale is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management with degrees in Marketing and Supply Chain Management. Her minor is in Native American Studies. Hale has spent time volunteering at the VA Hospital and is an active military and veteran supporter. She is currently a public relations and marketing intern at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. 

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