What a week! I haven't even had a minute since I got home to sit down and write about my experience in NY. I don't know if anyone remembers my mentioning this a couple months ago, but I was accepted into the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans' Families.
For lack of time, let me do the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How model for you...
Who--this is a group that was started by Mike Haynie of Syracuse University as a program for disabled veterans to better equip them to transition into civilian life. It grew to include 7 other universities around the country, (Allan attended the one at Texas A&M) and this was the very first class of the expanded version for caregivers of wounded vets. They are an amazing organization and really do a lot of good, so if you're looking for a place to send some money, it would be well-used by EBV!
What--a master's program in entrepreneurship (starting your own business) rolled up into one week. It is SUPER intense, but they take great care of their students. We learned everything from finding a passion/idea to writing a business plan to marketing to legal issues. The best part is that they follow us home and offer us a support structure that we can count on in the future as we work our way through the process of becoming a business owner.
Where--it all started in Syracuse, NY. The EBV program is now at schools around the country like Texas A&M, FSU, LSU and etc. I attended the program in Syracuse, NY and what a neat little town it is! The college is amazing and I was grateful to get to be in the originating place with the people who actually make the whole thing happen.
When--The program is once yearly but at different schools, so there is the opportunity to go at different times of the year. There is a 6 week online course and then a 9 day "residency" at the school you are accepted to. The EBV program kicked off 4 years ago and boasts over 500 graduates with more than 125 of those starting and maintaining successful, profitable businesses to this day. The very first EBV-F program launched this fall, with me in the inaugural class.
Why--Mike Haynie's passion is for vets because he is a vet himself. He said he found after he left the military that he struggled with a sense of purpose being "only" a professor. He brought the idea up to the dean at Syracuse and it was launched pretty quickly thereafter. The goal for the EBV program is to give disabled vets who would otherwise not be able to work create work that is purposeful and tailored to their specific abilities. The goal for EBV-F is to do the same for the caregivers of wounded vets, but also to teach work-life balance, so that we can work a business that will also allow us to care for our veterans and our families. I so love that they appreciate our need to do both.
How--This program is completely privately funded by groups like PepsiCo, Ernst & Young, etc. When you are accepted into the program, everything is covered, from the textbooks to the airfare and hotel to the professors teaching to the food (and boy did they feed us!) The only thing I pulled a dime out of my pocket for was souveniers for the kids. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I wish I had time to go on and on, but I will link for anyone who could use a program like this or knows someone who could. Please tell everyone. There are very few organizations who actually do what they say they'll do for the vets, but this is definitely one of them and they go above and beyond.
I know what I learned at EBV-F will last me a lifetime and will serve to give my family a security and a hope. I have every faith that the leaders of this program and the partners will be with me every step of the way as I move forward to see our goals through. I pray every vet who is interested will go to this class and find purpose in their lives after medical discharge. I pray every caregiver who needs to earn money for his/her family after a loss will go through this program and find purpose in their lives as well.