Disabled vets are getting help finding work in a tough job environment from one of their own. Air Force veteran Mike Haynie, a business professor at Syracuse University, has created a course to teach disabled vets how to start their own businesses. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on this innovative program for a 60 Minutes story to be broadcast Sunday, May 12 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans teaches the crucial aspects of an MBA education in a month-long online course followed by 10 days of instruction. It's now taught on eight college campuses, including Syracuse, and is enjoying a 70 percent success rate. Part of the reason for such a rate of success is that entrepreneurship is a part of the military experience. "You learn to become entrepreneurial in the context of serving in the military," says Haynie. "The boss comes to you and says, 'Here's what we need you to accomplish. It's got to be done in two days. Figure it out."
The 10-day portion of the program begins with Haynie and another instructor putting them into the entrepreneurial mode by taking them out to buy suits and lodging them in hotels instead of dormitories. "I want to begin to help them change who they perceive they are...create a new narrative, that new vision for...'I am a business owner,' he tells Gupta.
Seven out of 10 veterans who entered the program, begun in 2006, started a business within four years. Nine of those graduates began businesses that had revenues in the millions of dollars, including a tech start-up with $40 million in revenue.
Gupta followed several vets through Haynie's program. One, Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Pam Randall, was having a hard time finding work, even menial labor. She also suffers from a range of painful disabilities incurred over years of hard landings on military flights. "I was a little shocked. I had to do something. So now, you know, small business, here we come." She used the skills learned at EBV to turn her leatherworking hobby into a saddle business. "I've got the craft side. It's that whole business world-- all that business stuff that I knew absolutely nothing about."
So far, just 600 have gone through the program and there could be so many more believes Haynie. Currently, an estimated 20,000 are leaving military service every month. "You know, it's spitting in the wind. There's so much more we could do," he says. "As far as I'm concerned, who better to live the American dream of business ownership than these men and women who have put on a uniform to defend that dream," he tells Gupta.
The government, which provides small business loans to vets, has asked Haynie to design coursework for all returning veterans that includes information on free programs, mentorships and contacts in the business world.