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contract

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in an attempt to improve the disability examination experience for veterans, has awarded twelve major contracts to improve the deliverability of timely disability benefits claims decisions.

The contracts, worth $6.8 billion, are being awarded for a period of 12 months with four 12-month options.

The VA awarded the contracts to VetFed Resources, Veterans Evaluation Services and QTC Medical Services through the Medical Disability Examination Program in support of the MyVA initiative.

“The goal will be to reduce the veteran’s wait times for examinations as much as possible thereby providing faster claims decisions and enhancing veterans’ experience in a positive way,” said Tom Murphy, acting principal deputy undersecretary for benefits at the VA.

The Medical Disability Examination Program will see the consolidation of the contracts under a single program management initiative, with representation in the central management group from both the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

“This will be a major accomplishment for veterans going forward, not only for the efficiencies and additional oversight, but VA can now maximize the capacity of inherent capability and leverage the contract expertise and capacity as needed,” said Murphy. “The goal will be to reduce the veteran’s wait times for examinations as much as possible thereby providing faster claims decisions and enhancing Veterans’ experience in a positive way.”

Up until now, contracts for medical examinations have been managed by both administrations with varying degrees of efficiency and delivery time of exam reports, which are critical to veterans’ disability determinations supporting their compensation and pension claim.

The new program management and delivery process will also continue to ensure broad national and international coverage of medical examination requirements to meet veterans’ needs world-wide.

veteranlaunch

By Debbie Gregory.

I recently was able to talk with a new non-profit in California called Veteran Launch.  They are offering what I like to call “Smart Money” to veteran entrepreneurs.  I call it “Smart” because of the attractive interest rates and the network and services they offer to Veterans for free as a part of their support.

First – “smart” interest rates. It always surprises me that about two-thirds of veterans do not shop around to get the best interest rates on their business financing. Veteran Launch is very attractive offering prime plus 4% which is about 7.5% right now. On loans up to $250,000 this is not only close to what banks offer but also much better then most of the online and peer lending options for Veterans.

The next “smart “thing that impressed me about Veteran Launch was how they work with the veteran business owner going into the transaction and help them refine their financials and business plan using some very sophisticated tools. What’s even better is on the back end of the transaction Veteran Launch is there to support the veteran business with free financial software and one-to-one business consulting to help reduce costs, increase revenue, and make sure they stay on top of their finances as they grow their business – I don’t see many lenders doing this for veterans.

They also bring a growing network of organizations that want to work with veteran owned businesses. This network is another “smart” reason to consider Veteran Launch because they can help you find new clients and business partners.

Perhaps the “smartest” thing I saw in Veteran Launch was that they are lead and staffed by military veterans. Their managing director and Army veteran, Noah Harris, brings a no nonsense approach to their support a veteran business owners and it seems to really work. Today they have worked with over 25 veteran business owners and loaned them almost $2.5 million dollars. If you’re a California-based business I suggest you check them out at www.veteranlaunch.org.

EBV10 part2

By Tina M Kapral | Senior Director of  Education and Training
Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University

In July of 2007, Dr. J. Michael Haynie held the first Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) class of seventeen students. These individuals were from across the U.S., from different service branches and ages, but all had the dream of owning their own businesses. The business ideas ranged from construction firms to non-profit organizations helping other veterans. The EBV residency phase was and still is intense — long days of classes, taught from a very practical standpoint, and late nights working on venture pitches to present at the end of the week. This was a purposeful approach.  Servicemembers know what to expect in “bootcamp” and that is exactly what they received, classes delivered on opportunity recognition, marketing, operations, supply chain, government contracts, legal and human resource management to name a few.  It was a great success; all seventeen students graduated at the end of week with pride and a new “mission” in life.

As it is often said, good news travels fast. As other schools heard of EBV and its success, many more schools wanted to have their own EBV programs.  This led Dr. Haynie to create the EBV consortium. First to join, Florida State University, then UCLA, Purdue, UCONN, Texas A&M, to today, where the EBV’s 10-university consortium also includes Cornell, LSU, Saint Joseph’s University, and University of Missouri, with the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University continuing to serve as the national hub. EBV has since helped Dr. Haynie launch other veteran and military family entrepreneurship training programs to include EBV-F, VWISE, Boots to Business, and Boots to Business Reboot

.

Dr. Haynie never envisioned EBV to grow to ten schools, nor did he anticipate the launch of the IVMF in 2011. Yet, through these programs and services dedicated to advancing the post-service lives of America’s servicemembers, veterans and their families, the Institute and current Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud are bringing Syracuse University’s commitment to veterans and their families full circle.

In 1940, “The University promised programs that would address individual needs of veterans, whether they wished to complete job training, their high school diploma, or an advanced degree.”  Post-World War II, Chancellor William Pearson Tolley recognized the role that higher education can play in advancing our nation’s returning veterans. He announced Syracuse University’s “uniform admissions program,” which ensured all military personnel admission to Syracuse upon return from war.” http://vets.syr.edu/about/role-impact.

History repeats itself, but this time in a positive, impactful way for our aspiring vetrepreneurs.

EVB-Dr. Mike Haynie

By Tina M Kapral | Senior Director of  Education and Training
Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), is a program executed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University in cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration (SBA).  This year, EBV proudly celebrates its 10-Year Anniversary, and is delivered at ten universities nationwide.  It’s more than 1,300 graduates have revenues totaling over $196 million and hire on average four employees (many of whom are fellow veterans). Of these graduates, 68% of the businesses started are still in operation today.

Although EBV didn’t start that way, it began as a social venture of Dr. J. Michael Haynie, an Air Force veteran of 14 years (1992-2006), who in 2006 joined the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University as a professor of entrepreneurship.  Dr. Haynie knew through his research that veterans were starting businesses at a much higher rate than civilians.  For example, after WWII, over 48% started business, and individuals with a disability were twice as likely to start a businesses (http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/misc/entrepre.htm) .  He realized the faculty of Whitman were teaching, training and inspiring entrepreneurs every day, so why not bring this opportunity of business ownership to the community that most deserved to live the American dream — veterans and their families.

Dr. Haynie developed the curriculum to include an online portion, followed by a nine-day residency on campus, with follow up resources and support. He wanted the EBV program to be offered at no cost to post 9/11 service connected disabled veterans with a passion for entrepreneurship. He presented his proposal to the Dean of the Whitman School. Dean Melvin T. Stith, a Vietnam veteran himself, immediately gave Dr. Haynie the approval to launch this program at Syracuse University.  Now came the difficult part — raising the funds needed to support the effort, as well as recruiting veterans to participate. Dr. Haynie found supporters among Whitman alumni, who financially supported EBV; the Whitman faculty, who volunteered to teach; and business students, who helped to execute the program.

The recruitment was more difficult; Dr. Haynie found himself traveling to wounded warrior units to present the program and encountered many challenging naysayers who felt that veterans should not become business owners.  Dr. Haynie would later find research proving the opposite.  He noted this in The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran, Beyond the Clique’, March 2015, stating many veterans possess the same characteristics as those who are high performing entrepreneurs. “Individuals who are drawn to military service, who then have military training and socialization have a common strong self-efficacy, a high need for achievement, are comfortable with autonomy and uncertainty, and make effective decisions in the face of dynamic environments. These attributes, as they are linked to entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial mindset among military veterans, have been consistently demonstrated in practice.” (http://vets.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/The-Business-Case-for-Hiring-a-Veteran-3-6-124.pdf)

sm

By Debbie Gregory.

With the theme “Dream Big, Start Small,” President Obama declared May 1st -7th  as National Small Business Week.

The president said that America’s small businesses are “responsible for creating nearly two-thirds of net new jobs in the United States each year and employing more than half of all Americans.” He added that “small businesses have always been a vital part of our country’s economy. Across America, small businesses support economies, employ local residents, and contribute to the vibrancy of their communities.”

Throughout National Small Business Week, events will be live-streamed and focused on a variety of entrepreneurial topics including: trade, business trends and resources to help you start and grow a business, cyber security, veteran support, targeting millennial entrepreneurs and innovation. In addition there will be workshops on ideation to commercialization, small business opportunities in the entertainment industry and exporting opportunities.

Small businesses support economies, employ local residents, and contribute to their communities.

“Our Nation does best when we help our startups and small businesses expand into new markets and offer goods and services to more people,” said Obama

In 2015, the Obama administration awarded an all-time high of more than a quarter of eligible Federal contracts to small businesses.

The annual event is hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and is designed to recognize the nation’s top small businesses, entrepreneurs, and business advocates. The week-long event will continue through May 6, with SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet hosting planned national events in New York, Denver, Phoenix, Oakland and San Jose, CA.

There are free training webinars covering:

  • Taking the Mystery out of Voluntary Benefits
  • The Decline of Magstripe Cards—and What That Means for Your Business
  • Cloud, Mobile, and Social: Great Apps and Services That Will Grow Your Business
  • Access to Capital and Business Loans: Best Practices, Tips for Getting Your Business Financially Fit

To see the city-by-city schedule and to register for the webinars or view live-streamed events please visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.

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