60 Minutes: Succeeding As Civilians
What happens to members of the military once their active duty is over? Walmart has offered to hire any veteran who wanted a job. But with three million veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, half with disabilities, there are a lot of people in need. CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta contributed a report for 60 Minutes. A new program is creating jobs for veterans by putting the power in their hands.
More vets committed suicide in 2012 than died due to enemy combat. But a business professor has endeavored to give veterans a new project: business ownership. His business incubator is backed by major corporations.
60 Minutes: Stumpies Custom Guns Review
Staff sergeant Brad Lang was a sharpshooter in the Marine Corps. He was a volunteer on the bomb squad unit. In 2011, as he defused two IEDs, he accidentally triggered a third explosive. “My right leg was gone from halfway down my shin,” he said.
He said it did not take long for him to get over the hardship of losing both his legs. He and his family pressed forward, focusing on the future and new opportunities. H received a Purple Heart and endured nearly two dozen operations.
As he recuperated, he reconnected with Johnny Morris, a fellow vet who lost a leg. The two partnered to start a business of building guns and adapting them for people with disabilities.
60 Minutes: Entrepreneurship Bootcamp For Veterans
The two named their company Stumpies, since between the two men they had just one good leg. But they needed help to realize their dream, and it came in the form of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp For Veterans With Disabilities. This business crash course covers all aspects, from competition to financing.
Mike Haynie started this program in 2006, and the one-month online course is followed by a 10-day program at campuses across the country. The alumni get opportunities to shop for business attire and begin to see themselves in new roles as executives.
60 Minutes: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Disability
Marine Lance Corporal Garrett Anderson entered the program with dreams of starting a production company. He is one of hundreds of thousands of veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Haunted by memories of battle as a teen in Fallujah, he attempted suicide. When that plan failed, he was able to realize he needed help. He’s not alone, since more than 20 veterans commit suicide every day.
Mike Haynie said there is a crisis among veterans returning home from war. He said he thinks it’s his obligation to support veterans who gave their time in service to America. About half of veterans come back with disabilities, which can limit their prospects in certain fields.
60 Minutes: Veteran Entrepreneurship
But Haynie said that members of the military are suited to entrepreneurship, because they often have to think on their feet. According to Gupta, 70% of graduates from Haynie’s program started a business within four years of graduation.
Even better, nine of those students are running multi-million dollar businesses. Pam Randall is one of them, and she said she was amazed at her limited job opportunities after retiring from the Air Force in 2010, with injuries all over her body.
She said she is in pain every day, but that did not stop her from looking for work. Despite her 23 years of experience, she could not seem to get a foot in the door in the private sector.
60 Minutes: Job Opportunities For Vets
When Randall struck out with a year of applications, she set her sights on small business, hoping to parlay a leatherworking hobby into a “saddle and tack business.” She said she needed a business education, and that is where the entrepreneurship bootcamp came into play for her.
These veterans never dreamed they would start their own businesses. They agreed that the challenges are daunting, and fear is chief among them.
“The challenges are mental, not physical,” Gupta said. But the vets find it easy to rely on one another for support, in part because a common bond.
60 Minutes: Jobs For Veterans
As a final exam, the graduates are given the chance to pitch their business plan to real business executives. With just 600 graduates through the program so far, Haynie wishes he could expand the reach.
“It’s spitting in the wind. There’s so much more we could do,” he said.
Gupta and Haynie blamed the government for not doing more for veterans. This seems like a routine punching bag for 60 Minutes, and I can’t say they are wrong.
The government has reached out to Haynie for help in creating a curriculum for returning troops. But the ancillary support services are a key part of the program. Nine months after graduation, some of this year’s class have opened their businesses.
60 Minutes: Lladner’s Leathercrafts Review
Randall’s business, Lladner’s Leathercrafts, is selling horse halters. Anderson is finishing a documentary with his production company. Lang and Morris started a gun business out of a shed, acquiring a federal firearms license and selling over 100 guns.
It sounds like things are looking up for these veterans, who are seizing an opportunity. But I can’t help thinking about the thousands of others returning from war and waiting for a chance to go to work.