But they didn't know how to make Stumpie's a reality and that's where the entrepreneurship bootcamp for veterans comes in.
[Mike Haynie in classroom: One thing I am going to ask of you this week is make the most of this opportunity.]
It's a crash course in business: everything from keeping the books, to understanding the competitive landscape, to getting financing.
Mike Haynie: 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.
Mike Haynie, an Air Force vet turned entrepreneurship professor, started the bootcamp for veterans in 2006. It's a month-long online course, followed by a 10-day, all-expenses paid program, that's offered on eight campuses nationwide, including this one at Syracuse University.
Sanjay Gupta: You really treat them like-- I mean, business executives. Take them out shopping for suits and ties. They stay in hotels as opposed to dorms. What's the significance of that?
Mike Haynie: I want to begin to help them change who they-- who they perceive they are. You also have to create a new-- that new narrative, that new vision for, you know, "I am an entrepreneur. I am a business owner."
Marine Lance Corporal Garrett Anderson wanted to start a production company when he applied. While everyone in the class has a disability, Anderson's wounds are less visible. He's one of the approximately 600,000 vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Garrett Anderson: During the day I could function. During the day I could do my work. But night would come. And I'd just start drinking.
He was just 19 when he fought in Fallujah, one of the deadliest battles of the Iraq war. It haunted him.
Garrett Anderson: One night, I got pretty intoxicated. Later that night, I tried to hang myself. And I failed at that. And after I'd failed at that I realized in a real way like, "Hey, you-- you didn't come home OK. You've got a problem and it's because of the war."
More than 22 veterans kill themselves every day that's almost one an hour.
Mike Haynie: It's a crisis. And everyone recognizes that it's a crisis.
Sanjay Gupta: Has someone or something failed?
Mike Haynie: Yeah, no question. I mean, it's-- how do we let that happen?
Sanjay Gupta: Is that in part what-- what drives you?
Mike Haynie: I feel-- an obligation to support the men and women who-- who have shouldered the burden of-- of a decade at war. They stepped up. They volunteered.
[Mike Haynie: How many of you in your military roles have had those people you work for...]
Nearly half of those returning are coming home with disabilities, which can make it difficult to hold traditional 9-t0-5 jobs.
Sanjay Gupta: Are veterans particularly good at being entrepreneurs?
Mike Haynie: Absolutely. You learn to become entrepreneurial in the context of serving in the military. The boss comes up to you and says, "Here's what we need you to accomplish. It's got to be done in two days. Figure it out."
Seventy percent of the vets who entered his program started a business within four years. Nine grads are running multi-million dollar businesses, including a technology company that had revenues of more than $40 million.
Pam Randall didn't dare dream about that kind of success.