In 2011, thanks to transformational support from founding partner JPMorgan Chase & Co., that single program grew into what is 10 years later Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. To date and with philanthropic support from companies, government agencies and private funding, we have enhanced the post-service lives of over 150,000 veterans, transitioning service members, military spouses, and families.
The initial steps toward the first place in higher education dedicated to improving the lives of military families began in 2007. A single program for veterans with disabilities interested in starting their own business, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, was a crash course program for veterans looking to get started in entrepreneurship or take their businesses to the next level.
Born from Whitman School of Management Professor Michael Haynie’s experiences working with traumatically injured veterans, his vision for a program that empowered veterans post-service evolved into something greater.
In 2011, that single program grew into what became the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. joining Syracuse University to create an institute that has since supported over 150,000 veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses.
From those humble beginnings, IVMF now has over a dozen programs in career training, entrepreneurship, community services, politics and civic engagement and more. There are dozens of locations throughout the country – from Fort Drum, NY to Hawaii — and even some programs are overseas.
What started with one person in a single room now has over a hundred employees working across the country, but the mission from the very beginning has never changed: “In service to those who have served.”
Ellie Komanecky is a graphic artist that has been working for the IVMF before it technically existed. Komanecky was the very first employee dating back to 2007 when Dr. Mike Haynie created the first Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program.
Read the interview with Komanecky discussing her personal connection with the program and how she watched the institute grow to what it is today.
Mirza Tihic was a member of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families from the beginning. However, his path to Central New York began in 1992 after leaving Bosnia for Croatia and later Germany. He said he was fortunate to escape when he did, because many were killed in the subsequent Bosnian war. “We lost literally everything in the war,” he says. Tihic finished his high school education in Germany and immigrated to the United States in October, 1999. After picking up enough English to enroll in college, he started his first semester at Onondaga Community College in January of 2000. The following year he transferred to Syracuse University.
The first program started in 2007, which was four years before IVMF was officially founded. View our timeline to see an abridged history of the IVMF.
To date, more than 150,000 transitioning service members, veterans and military family members, were served by IVMF programs. In 2007, when we launched our very first program – before the IVMF was even founded – that number was 17.