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Boots 2 Business: making the transition

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – An Airman stands inside a C-130J Super Hercules here before loading cargo in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn March 20. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces.  JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nathanael Callon)

The Boots to Business program, available through the Transition Assistance Program, offers separating service members with the tools and knowledge about entrepreneurship as they transition back to civilian life. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A coffee shop, small local restaurant or even a web-based retail store could be just a few examples of future business opportunities for service members as they transition from military to civilian life, thanks to assistance from the Boots to Business program.

The B2B program is new to Peterson and the first class began July 22.

"Even if they are minutely thinking about starting a business, this is the course for them," said Kehinde OshikoyaPamphille, 21st Force Support Squadron Transition Assistance Program manager.

In August 2011, President Barack Obama announced a comprehensive plan to address the issue of transitioning veterans finding meaningful employment opportunities in the civilian workforce. New training was developed to help strengthen and better prepare service members returning to civilian life.

Signed into law in 2011, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, commonly known as the Hiring Our Heroes Act, includes steps to improve the existing TAP, which is mandatory for all separating service members. The entrepreneurship program is one of the optional training tracks offered via the TAP.

"If they are really committed, focused and have completed all of the sections that they are required to do, it is a very, highly successful track," OshikoyaPamphille said about the overall success that Airmen have with the program.

B2B is a U.S. Small Business Administration sponsored, three-step training program developed to introduce and train transitioning service members to business ownership.

"I had a young (security forces Airman) who wanted to open a shoe shop. He did a lot of research and he came with the passion, the dedication and the added character that they already have within the military system," said OshikoyaPamphille. "The program helped him along the way to fulfilling his desire for a new career after the Air Force."

"The Operation Boots to Business program is exactly what our veterans need to prepare them for life after the military," said Reggie Selby, Small Business Programs director. "Our data shows that veteran small business owners are more likely to succeed in business ownership. In part, this is because of the discipline they gained while serving in the military, their unrelenting desire to never quit and because of the many other life experiences they have had while serving in the military."

"This is a win-win for everyone because the DOD benefits from the years of experiences of the veterans. Finally, who better to live the American dream of business ownership than those who have defended that dream through military service," Selby said.

All active duty transitioning military members and their spouses separating from service can elect to participate in the entrepreneurship training track of TAP.

The first of step in the B2B program consist of a two-day intensive workshop taught by SBA and Service Corps of Retired Executives representatives in partnership with the Department of Defense through the VOW Act and Veterans Employment Initiative Military Wide Transition Assistance Program TAP. This class will educate participants on small business ownership fundamentals, highlighting steps, stages, activities, strengths and life goals related to launching and growing a business as a post-military career. This workshop helps service members decide if it is the right choice for them.

Upon completion of the B2B two-day workshop "entrepreneurial class," transitioning service members have the option to further their studies through an eight-week online course offered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. Completion of this online course requires approximately 10 hours of study each week and walks students through the fundamentals of developing a business plan.

After completing the B2B program, participants will have the tools and knowledge they need to identify a business opportunity, draft a business plan, connect with local small business resources and launch their own small business. There are no registration fees or tuition for any portion of the B2B entrepreneurship training track. All service members receive textbooks and resources necessary to complete the program.

Boots to Business is offered through the Peterson Airman and Family Readiness Center Transition Assistance Program from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 23-24. To register for the two-day intensive workshop (a prerequisite for the eight-week online course) call the A&FRC.

For information about the B2B program, go to http://boots2business.org/ or contact the A&FRC at 556-6141 to register.

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