How one company is boosting the morale - and success - of veteran entrepreneurs - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

This article is sponsored by Bunker Labs.

Veterans In Residence program, a partnership of Bunker Labs and WeWork, is a six-month business incubator that is revolutionizing entrepreneurship for veterans — just ask Bryan Jacobs. 

Jacobs never intended to join the U.S. Navy.

“When I joined the military, every male in my family had served,” the Tampa-based entrepreneur told We Are The Mighty. “There was a long line of service there. I wasn’t pressured into it, but it wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to be the first male in my family to go to college, but I was young and naive and it didn’t work out that way.”

When Jacobs left the military in 2005 after six years of service, he felt lost.

“When I got out of the military, I went through a lot of changes and became homeless,” he shared, saying much of his identity had been linked to his military career. “I wasn’t ready for anything that the outside world had to offer. In fact, I came out of the military rather quickly. I left Iraq November 5 and was out by November 25. There was no transition or support. It was a different world then.”

Inspired by the legacy of his grandfather, a chef, Jacobs leaned into his entrepreneurial spirit to navigate his newly-minted civilian life. Still homeless, he signed up for culinary school.

“I love to cook so much I took two cookbooks to Iraq that I could read. It took me out of the pain of life and the emotional struggles I was living in,” he shared. “I went to culinary school in 2008. I was couch surfing, sleeping in a garage and had a part-time job as a trainer, where I could take showers. I had made some bad choices and didn’t have a lot of knowledge and didn’t understand the power of knowledge.”

In May of 2014, Jacobs tragically lost his younger brother, who also served, to suicide. It was the wake-up call he needed to reevaluate his life and shift perspectives.

“I felt responsible as a brother in arms, but also as a brother in general,” he shared. “I kept asking myself,  ‘Why am I still here?’ and ‘What is the light in the darkness?’”

Through personal growth and introspection, Jacobs launched Vets 2 Success, a nonprofit organization that supports homeless and displaced veterans in finding their passion and purpose through food and brew programs.

Jacobs shared an exercise in which he challenges veterans to think about the specific ingredients in their favorite foods and equates it to ‘bad ingredients’ in life.

“If there are bad ingredients in the recipe, would it still be seen the same? Of course not,” he shared. “So if you have all these bad ingredients in your life, that’s how you are going to be seen. That’s how easy it is to inspire them to see their personal changes. What we’re doing is helping them see the process that needs to be enveloped. And those ingredients don’t come overnight. They don’t come in a quick trip that can be solved tomorrow, but it’s a process to get to the plate. This is how we talk about retraining their minds to look at problems and find solutions.”

bunker labs

As his nonprofit grew, Jacobs continued to seek both personal and professional development, which is how he discovered the Veterans In Residence program. The program, a partnership of Bunker Labs and WeWork, is a peer-facilitated, six-month business incubator that provides military-connected entrepreneurs, including veteran small business owners, a networking community, business skills and a workspace to help launch and grow their business.

Currently operating in 23 major cities, Veterans In Residence helps entrepreneurs take their business ideas to the next level through facilitated accountability and connections.

“We look for the companies we select for these programs to be at  a point where they can really leverage their time in the cohort as much as possible and also be a value add for their peers,” Ann Cardona of Bunker Labs, shared. 

Jacobs took on the rigorous application process, was accepted and began the cohort in July 2020 for a new arm of his existing nonprofit. The entrepreneur and aspiring innovationist recommends that applicants come with direction, but be open-minded for that plan to shift.

“My plan has completely grown in different aspects and avenues than I ever thought,” Jacobs shared on his experience with the six-month program. “Be okay with good, constant feedback and be prepared to be challenged. That was something that took me by surprise. Of course everyone is in love with their own idea. You have to hear from others that they believe in your idea. It gave me a boost of confidence that other entrepreneurs believed in it. As an entrepreneur you feel crazy already. The program gave me the confidence to say – this is going to work, but it’s not going to be easy and that’s okay.”

The next Veterans In Residence cohort, set to begin in early 2021, will be the most diverse yet. Bunker Labs anonymized the applications in the selection process, ensuring they were blind to names, gender, location and ethnicity.

“There were three of us that looked at all 409 companies that had a legal entity set up to ensure consistency throughout the process,” Cardona said. “The IT team set up a comprehensive application process and rubric for applicants. We wanted to make sure there were no unconscious biases in the selection process. We broke them back up into locations after the initial screening and we did a virtual group interview with the top 20 candidates in each location to get to our final eight. We will have two virtual cohorts that are a conglomerate of entrepreneurs from across the nation where Bunker Labs does not currently have a coworking space agreement (such as with WeWork) already established.

bunker labs

Cardona stated that Bunker Labs aims to have the upcoming cohort be the most impactful yet by ensuring everyone has a legal entity set up prior to the cohort beginning. 

For companies that are not at this point yet, Bunker Labs encourages them to join the Bunker Online community, focus on Launch Lab Online, and participate in workshop series that are designed to get prospective cohort applicants ready for the next Veterans In Residence cohort.

“Almost all of the companies are out of the ideation phase and most are already seeing some traction, which is different than past cohorts where we still had a good number that were very much in ideation,” Cardona shared. “We also chose companies that had more defined goals and were able to be vulnerable and honest about where they were in their businesses and what their true needs were. If the cohort members already have a good idea of where they are going and what they need from us, it is much easier for us to connect them with the correct resources and have a bigger impact on their business.”

“The best part of Veterans In Residence was the city leaders,” Jacobs said. “Just having people who cared about you, who are trying to run their own businesses, but they are there to help you. When they said they were going to get things done, they did. It was having that confidence. As an entrepreneur you hear all the time – hey I’m gonna hook you up – but everyone has an agenda. None of these people had a [personal] agenda.”

Nearly two decades removed from war, Jacobs still draws parallels to his time in the military with his current role as a founder and entrepreneur.

“Walking through life as an entrepreneur is like combat – you’re just hoping for success that you come out on the other side,” he said. “Veterans In Residence helped propel my confidence as an entrepreneur. It helped me realize there’s something bigger – it’s not a personal endeavor and I didn’t have that feeling going in, but coming out the other side there is a completely new perspective laid before me.”

This article is sponsored by Bunker Labs.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Everything you need to know about startup accelerators for vet-owned businesses

If someone told you the only way for you to survive the coming recession unscathed would be to start your own business, would you even know where to begin? Would you be able to afford the startup costs on your own? Can you handle the workload that might come with such a venture? For most people, especially veterans, that answer is no. That’s what startup accelerators are for – access to knowledge, access to capital, mentorship, connections, talent – all these things can be acquired through these programs.


Vets have some unique skills and traits that make them natural entrepreneurs. And that’s why a startup accelerator like Bunker Labs has big plans for those who are ready to take the first steps toward entrepreneurship.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

When some of the most powerful brands get together for vets, big things happen.

Veterans are an interesting slice of Americans, especially where entrepreneurship is concerned. Time and again, veterans show they have the work ethic and drive it takes to start their own enterprises. Of the 200,000 separating veterans every year, 25 percent of those are interested in starting their own businesses but only 4.5 percent of those 50,000 vets are actually able to pursue their own entrepreneurial vision. The reason is because starting your own business takes knowledge veterans may not have and capital most definitely do not have.

That’s where a veteran-owned business accelerator can come into play. If you don’t know where to begin but you have a great idea, an accelerator like Bunker Labs is a great place to start. Starting a business isn’t obvious – there’s a lot that goes into it that you will just not know. Bunker Labs is a non-profit startup accelerator for the military-veteran community comprised of veteran volunteers with the tools and resources to help their fellow vetrepreneurs start their business.

Bunker Labs has helped create more than 1,000 veteran jobs in the United States and helped raise some million in startup capital. This accelerator captures the ambition and innovation veterans bring to startups and equips them with knowledge, mentorship, and opportunities they might otherwise not have had access to. There are labs online, labs in-residency for vets, and when the ball really gets rolling, a cadre of CEO vetrepreneurs who are taking their work to the next level. Bunker Labs is even a partner with the 2019 Military Influencer Conference, a three-day entrepreneurial workshop which brings together the brightest and most inspiring veteran entrepreneurs to teach and share their lessons learned and best practices.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

To get started with Bunker Labs, vets simply have to start with registering for their Launch Labs Online, fill out some quick demographic information and from there you can connect with other new members, find a mentor, engage the Facebook group, and more. After activating your account, you can start taking classes with Bunker Labs right away. The core classes include knowing yourself, knowing your customers, and how to make money. From there, the sky could be the limit.

If you’re interested in starting your own business and don’t know where to begin, the Military Influencer Conferences are the perfect place to start. There, you can network with other veteran entrepreneurs while listening to the best speakers and panels the military-veteran community of entrepreneurs can muster. Visit the Military Influencer Conference website for more information.

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 of the ways to lose the “once a Marine, always a Marine” status

You see and hear this term all the time: “former Marine.” And, wherever you see it, you’ll also see Marines telling you (and everyone else) why we hate it. Sure, there are a few folks out there who agree with it, but those of us who hold the title near and dear to our hearts will tell you a different story.

In my opinion, there’s a damned good reason for the expression, “once a Marine, always a Marine.” Others disagree.


To be fair, this is not a mentality exclusive to Marines. Just because you “get out” doesn’t mean you’re no longer a Marine, soldier, airman, coast guardsman, etc. You don’t just instantly forget everything you’ve learned and experienced over the past few years once you get your DD-214. Joining the military makes you a part of a fraternity and you’ll find that you resonate better with other veterans than you do with people from any other walk of life for one simple reason: You became a part of something much larger than yourself.

Your membership was paid for in blood, sweat, and tears, along with the countless hours you spent dedicated to the cause. To say a veteran is an “ex-” anything is highly inaccurate.

However, there are certain qualities (mostly conscious choices) that define a former Marine. These are just a few of those qualities:

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

Maybe you just need some new Drill Instructors…

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Severe lack of discipline

It’s easy to fall into the trap of letting your discipline slide when you get out — in fact, a lot of us are guilty of this. But at some point, we pick it back up and we reintegrate it into our lives. To allow this discipline to drop off entirely is most definitely a conscious choice — one that can lead to the discontinuation of other hard-earned qualities.

Forgotten core values

No matter which branch you join, you’ll first learn the core values and then you’ll embody them. Those values shape your personal code and you live by them while you’re in the military. When you get out, if you aren’t still using them to find some direction in life, you’ve earn the “ex” in front of your title.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

Just remember what you learned.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Lack of leadership

Almost everyone comes out of the military with some type of leadership capabilities. Something you hear often in the military is, “in the absence of leadership, be a leader.” This applies heavily to civilian life because there’s often severe absence of leadership. If you get out of the military without learning how to take control from time to time, you likely didn’t learn much else.

Lack of punctuality

We’re all guilty of being late to something at some point. It just happens, it’s the way of life. But, those who learned anything from time in service will remember the factors that played into that tardiness, both self-inflicted and external, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

If you’re choosing to be late because you just don’t care — you’ve given up your title.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

If you define yourself as an “ex-Marine,” by all means.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

A conscious decision to no longer be a Marine

There’s a common belief among those who served that states you should always work to justify the fact that you’ve earned the right to be called a Marine (or solider, or airmen, etc). You should continuously employ the values learned in service in forming your civilian life.

There is, however, another side to this — and it’s simple. If you decide you’re no longer fitting of that title because you’ve grown a beard or whatever other, arbitrary reason, then you aren’t.

Many of us still believe in our titles and we’re willing to continue to honor it. It’s a lifetime effort and, if you’re not willing to make the commitment, nobody else will make it for you.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA adds 3D printing and virtual reality as treatment options

Senior Veterans Health Administration (VHA) employees recently demonstrated to the public how innovations are advancing clinical care and outcomes for veterans. Innovations included a virtual reality application used as a revolutionary PTSD treatment and 3D printing used for everything from orthotics to pre-surgery procedures.

The innovations were presented at the 2nd Annual Tech Day on May 16, 2019, in Washington, DC, by Dr. Beth Ripley, Senior Innovator Fellow, and Joshua Patterson, Acting Director of Strategic Initiatives with VHA Innovation Ecosystem (IE). Tech Day is a way for federal agencies to share their cutting-edge, mission-enabling technologies with leaders, fellow federal workers, and the public.


VHA IE made a big impression with its virtual reality and 3D printing demonstrations as attendees experienced how these ever-expanding technologies are helping veterans every day.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

Beth Ripley demonstrates 3D printing.

Patterson demonstrated StrongMind, VHA’s innovative PTSD treatment that offers patients therapeutic experiences that wouldn’t be possible without the use of virtual reality. By donning a virtual reality headset, attendees experienced how StrongMind works and why it’s appealing to a younger generation of veterans. They also experienced the personalized, forward-thinking care VA is delivering to veterans using innovative technology.

Ripley described how VHA’s 3D Printing Network is an integrated national effort that allows VA health care staff to share ideas and best practices, solve problems, and pool resources to improve veteran care.

These programs aren’t just on the showroom floor, however.

Veterans in the Puget Sound area have been the beneficiaries of 3D printing as VHA medical staff make model kidneys for veteran patients with renal cancer to aid in pre-surgical planning. At many other VHA facilities, veterans suffering from diabetes who lose feeling in their feet now have access to custom orthotics at the time of their visit, instead of waiting weeks to have them manufactured.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA postpones 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration events

The Department of Veterans Affairs, in keeping with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the COVID 19 virus, is postponing Vietnam War commemoration events until further notice.


As a commemorative partner to the Department of Defense led 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration program, hundreds of events were planned for late March and early April to coincide with the National Vietnam War Veterans Day observance on March 29.

VA’s event coordinators will retain all commemorative lapel pins and other materials shipped from the Department of Defense to support events in the future. Please visit www.vietnamwar50th.com for more information about the program.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

For Veterans with a Facebook account, they can download a frame at www.facebook.com/profilepicframes/?selected_overlay_id=908037382943967 to place a picture and show their pride for serving. The frame ­­­­shows the Vietnam War Veteran day pin and the text “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.”

For the latest VA updates on coronavirus and common-sense tips on preventing the spread of disease, visit https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/.

For more information about coronavirus, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

Former US Sen. Jim Webb may lose an award for past comments on women

Several Naval Academy alumni have asked the alumni association to rescind an award planned for former U.S. Sen. James Webb because of his decades-old essay questioning the decision to admit women into military service academies.


Webb, who also served as Secretary of the Navy, wrote the 7,000-word essay “Women Can’t Fight” for Washingtonian Magazine in 1979.

“There is a place for women in our military, but not in combat. And their presence at institutions dedicated to the preparation of men for combat command is poisoning that preparation,” Webb wrote.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
Senator Jim Webb. (Official photo courtesy of U.S. Senate)

He called the dormitory Bancroft Hall “a horny woman’s dream” and quoted former male alumni arguing that attending the academy is “scarring many women in ways they may not comprehend for years.”

The essay has been described by several alumni as a “manifesto” that potentially empowered male midshipmen to harass their female counterparts.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Laureen Miklos, a 1981 graduate, wrote in an email that the decision by the Naval Academy Alumni Association to give its Distinguished Graduate Award to Webb was “a hit to the gut.” She taught at the academy from 1998 to 2001 and described Webb’s essay as a “living document” still referenced by mids.

Miklos wrote the Annapolis-based association, arguing Webb’s essay validated those who thought women didn’t belong at the academy. She recalled an upperclassmen ordering a female classmate during her time at the academy to stand at attention at meals and shout “I am not a horny woman, Sir.”

Webb plans to be be present Friday when the association holds its Distinguished Graduate Award Ceremony. The award is given to alumni who have “personal character which epitomizes the traits we expect in our officer corps” and have made “significant contributions” as officers or leaders in industry or government.

Related: This book chronicles how women served alongside special ops in combat

Webb, who graduated from the academy in 1968, served as a rifle platoon and company commander during the Vietnam War. He earned the Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism” and two Purple Hearts for injuries that ended his active-duty career.

Webb released a statement to The Capital on March 27, 2017, saying he wrote a “strongly argumentative magazine article” during the intense national debate of women serving in combat.

“Clearly, if I had been a more mature individual, there are things that I would not have said in that magazine article,” he wrote in the statement. “To the extent that this article subjected women at the academy or the armed forces to undue hardship, I remain profoundly sorry.”

But Webb, who ran a brief campaign for the presidency as a Democrat in 2016, said he doesn’t regret debating the “long-term process of properly assimilating women” into the military. He said he is “deeply proud” of the contributions he made as Secretary of the Navy and a senator from Virginia. He cited the Navy-wide study he commission as secretary, which he said “opened up more positions to women than any secretary in history.”

Retired Adm. Robert Natter, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the association, said in a statement that Webb’s most recent comments “reflect how his views have evolved since that article 38 years ago.” Natter said Webb was selected by an independent selection chaired by retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a classmate of Webb’s and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“His many years of service are a matter of very public record, and on that entire record he was selected as a Distinguished Graduate,” Natter wrote.

Retired Capt. Jack Reape, a 1984 graduate, said an upperclassmen handed him a copy of the essay as a plebe. Reape said he and his classmates didn’t “support the women at the academy” during his time but that has since apologized to several of his female classmates.

Reape said he doesn’t see the point of taking the award from Webb because he “couldn’t name anyone else on that list.” He also said the award doesn’t have a big impact.

“He wouldn’t have been on my list of people,” Reape said. “We were in the Navy, we’re used to things not going to our way and pressing on. It’s the way it goes.”

Kelly Henry, a 1984 graduate, also wrote the association with criticism of the award. Henry said Webb’s essay was highly-circulated while she was in Annapolis and it caused “harm” to many of her classmates.

“The women will tell you that article was like throwing gasoline on the fire,” she said.

Henry said she was one of the “lucky” ones during her time at the academy and was in a company that welcomed the female mids. She said she was surprised to see Webb honored with the award, since 2016 marked the 40th year of women attending the Naval Academy.

She attended the academy’s celebration in the fall.

“At that celebration I felt we were embraced in the community,” Henry said. “We are no longer seen as something that tainted it, but now to see this? It completely takes away that feeling.”

Other 2017 Distinguished Graduates

—Retired Adm. Harry D. Train II ’49 — Train served as NATO supreme allied commander Atlantic and was also commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet from 1978 to 1982. He retired in 1982 and became involved in civic affairs in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

— Milledge A. “Mitch” Hart ’56 — Hart is the founder/co-founder of seven companies. After serving as a Marine in Oklahoma and Okinawa, he worked with alumnus Ross Perot to found Electronic Data Systems, a information technology equipment and services company. He later co-founded Home Depot, which became the second-largest retailer in the country.

—Retired Vice Adm. Cutler Dawson ’70 — Dawson is president and CEO of the Navy Federal Credit Union and was in the Navy for about 35 years. Under Dawson, the Enterprise Battle Group conducted strikes for Operation Desert Fox in the Arabian Gulf and Operation Allied for in the Adriatic Sea. He retired from the military in 2004 and became president of the Vienna, Virginia-based credit union.

—Retired Adm. Eric T. Olson ’73 — Olson is the former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He’s the first Navy SEAL to reach three- and four-star rank and the first naval officer to lead Special Operations Command. He retired in 2011 after serving for 38 years. After retiring, he founded ETO Group, an independent national security consulting firm.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Thieves drained the bank account of the US’ oldest living veteran

Richard Overton just celebrated his 112th birthday in his hometown of Austin, Texas. Unbeknownst to him, identity thieves were using his compromised bank account to purchase savings bonds through TreasuryDirect. Despite his well-known affinity for whiskey and cigars, the supercentenarian and World War II vet still requires round-the-clock care that costs up to $15,000 per month.

The elderly veteran”s cousin Volma first discovered the theft after noticing a discrepancy in his accounts while trying to make a deposit, according to NBC Austin affiliate KXAN reporter Kate Winkle.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
Richard Overton with Volma Overton, Jr., who first noticed the discepancy in the elderly veteran’s bank account.
(Richard Overton’s Go Fund Me)

Volma checked the balance of the account after making the deposit and noticed that the balance reflected only the deposit made. He then noticed a large number of debits he couldn’t understand.


Related: America’s oldest veteran gives you the secrets to life at 112

“What the hell are these debits?” Volma recalled thinking. Overton’s bank and TreasuryDirect are aware of the transactions are are taking appropriate measures.

Overton is a staple of the Austin community, a well-known personality who receives well-wishers from around the city on his birthday every year. He is featured on one of the city’s murals depicting influential African-American and Latino personalities. On his latest birthday, he received a visit Austin mayor, Steve Adler.

The 112-year-old is reasonably famous, especially among locals and much of his personal information is available online — though not his bank account and social security numbers. The drained account is separate from a GoFundMe account the family uses to raise money for Overton’s care.

His GoFundMe account keeps Overton in his home and away from having to live in a nursing home. Born in 1906, he has outlived all his closest relatives and requires $480 a day for his constant care.

Articles

This is how Evan Williams Bourbon honors veterans

Evan Williams is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey brand, named for the politician, entrepreneur, and distiller who, in 1783, became Kentucky’s First Commercial Distiller. With its origins in the heartland of America, it’s no surprise that the company prides itself on patriotism, including honoring our nation’s military with their American-Made Heroes program.

Learn more about the heritage of Evan Williams Bourbon right here.

Evan Williams American-Made Heroes celebrates our troops by sharing inspiring stories of continued service to their country and community after their military duty. Each year, the program recognizes a select few from thousands of nominations.


This year, the incredible honorees include:

  • Tyler Crane: A Purple Heart recipient who created a non-profit called Veteran Excursions to the Sea, a program that promotes “healing through reeling.”
  • Archie Cook: An airman who helps homeless veterans get back on their feet. At his private dental clinic, Archie offers medical discounts to members of the military and provides free and low-cost dental care to struggling veterans through Veterans Empowering Veterans.
  • Christopher Baity: A prior Military Working Dog Handler and Kennel Master who created Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, turning rescue dogs into service dogs.
  • Amanda Runyon: A Navy vet who served as a Hospital Corpsman, treating injured warriors suffering from combat injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan. She now supports her local post of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
  • Michael Stinson: A Chief Hospital Corpsman who retired after 23 years and continues to help his community through a number of initiatives, including service as a Police Officer and charity through the U.S.O. of Wisconsin.
  • Michael Siegel: A soldier who retired after service in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. He continues to help the military community as the Director of Columbia College at Fort Leonard Wood.

Previous American-Made Heroes include Adam Popp, an airman in the Explosives Ordnance Disposal program who lost his leg in an IED explosion and now serves as a board member for the EOD Warrior Foundation; and U.S. Marine Patrick Shannon, the recipient of two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for Valor who founded his own charity that supports the families of fallen, injured, and deployed service members.

Read more about these incredible heroes and
watch their stories here.

One of this year’s honorees, Christopher Baity, sports his American Hero Edition bottle.

And of course, they are also honored with a celebratory Evan Williams American Hero Edition Bottle. Each limited-edition red, white, and blue bottle features one of the American-Made heroes celebrated by Evan Williams.

Evan Williams shows their commitment to America’s heroes with this program, not only by celebrating their hand-selected heroes, but by acknowledging hundreds more with gift certificates of appreciation. Check out the American-Made Heores program to nominate a deserving veteran who continues to serve their community.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This veteran’s Korean-inspired hot sauce will blow your mind

Gochujang is going to be the runaway flavor of 2018, mark my words. For those of you who spent some time in South Korea, you might be familiar with the sweet, spicy Korean pepper sauce. If you haven’t tasted it yet, be prepared to completely forget about Srira… sri… whatever it’s called. And, of course, a Ranger-owned business is leading the way.


If you’re interested in trying it out, you need to get KPOP sauce.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
From KPOP’s Kickstarter page.

KPOP was founded by Mike Kim and Theo Lee. Kim was an Army Ranger and infantry platoon officer who served with distinction in Afghanistan. He and Lee co-founded KPOP Foods and developed the sweet and spicy sauce from Lee’s grandmother’s original recipe.

The two began a Kickstarter project to raise the capital needed to get their business off the ground.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
Kim and Lee (photo by the Daily Bruin)

We field-tested the sauce at the WATM offices and, after going through five bottles in a week, we decided that we’d follow the Ranger officer to any culinary place he wanted to take us. You can check out the KPOP Foods site for some epic recipes, but we decided to create one of our own.

August Dannehl, WATM’s resident Navy veteran, chef, and host of KCET’s new show Meals Ready to Eat, created a special recipe using the KPOP sauce — one that he says blends the flavors of the NC forests with the fields of South Korea.

This is a crowd pleaser, so bring a couple of friends.

Camp Lejeune NC BBQ Sandwich w/ KPOP and Kimchi Slaw

Ingredients

Pulled Pork

1 (8lb) pork shoulder roast

1 qt apple cider

2 tbsp kosher salt

2 tbsp paprika

2 tbsp onion powder

2 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

1 lg onion chopped

BBQ Sauce

2 cups KPOP

5 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp onion powder

1/2 tbsp mustard powder

Kimchi Slaw

2 cup Kimchi(hot)

5 cup Napa Cabbage, shredded

1 carrot, shredded

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup Japanese mayo

Salt and pepper to taste

Also need

Soft rolls w/ sesame seeds

3 cups hickory chips, water-soaked

Prepare

• Prepare the pork by rubbing 1/2 of all of the dry ingredients on the pork and then place the shoulder in a large pot. Pour the apple cider into the pot until it covers the pork. Place the pot in the fridge for 12 hours or overnight.

• To prepare the slaw, add all of the shredded vegetables to a bowl. Chop the Kimchi and add to the bowl with the vinegar and mayo. Mix liberally and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and place in the fridge for 12 hours or overnight.

• To prepare the sauce, add all of the ingredients into a small sauce pot and simmer at very low heat for 45 mins. Add water if reduction becomes to thick. Keep warm for service.

• After the pork has brined in the apple cider for at least 12 hours, remove cider brine and reserve. Prepare your smoker to 210 degrees Fahrenheit, pour in reserved brine, and place onion into water pan of the smoker. Spread remaining rub over shoulder and add to the center of the smoker.

• Smoke pork until fork tender; about 8-10 hours. Baste the shoulder with KPOP BBQ sauce about every 20mins to build a crust. Once falling apart, remove to a large receptacle and let sit for 15-20mins. Once juices have redistributed, pull pork apart using two forks and add more KPOP sauce. Place in warm oven or back in smoker to keep warm.

• To serve, remove slaw and allow to warm to room temp; about 15 minutes. To assemble sandwich, place pulled pork on bun, top with more KPOP BBQ sauce and Kimchi Slaw.

Enjoy!

Articles

WH recommends vets ‘set aside’ bitterness over Pearl Harbor attack

News that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is attending the ceremony remembering the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack has drawn some interest.


Unfortunately, it also seems to have drawn some advice from White House Spokesman Josh Earnest directed toward veterans of the surprise bombardment.

During a recent press briefing, Earnest said that World War II veterans should “set aside their own personal bitterness” over the unprovoked attack on Dec. 7, 1941, that left 2,403 Americans dead and over a thousand wounded.

Japan has refused to apologize for the attack, which sank or damaged 19 American vessels, including eight battleships and destroyed or damaged over 300 aircraft.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
A rescue operation underway from the burning USS West Virginia after the Japanese attacks. (U.S. Navy, December 7, 1941)

“If I were a World War II veteran who was drafted by the United States military to go and fight for our country overseas in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, I might feel quite embittered. And I think it would be a perfectly natural and understandable human reaction to not be particularly satisfied with the words of the Japanese Prime Minister,” Earnest said during the Dec. 5 briefing.

“There may be some who feel personally embittered,” he added. “But I’m confident that many will set aside their own personal bitterness, not because they’re personally satisfied by the words of the Prime Minister, but because they recognize how important this moment is for the United States.”

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
USS Arizona (US Navy photo)

Abe is the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit Pearl Harbor, declaring his intent to “mourn the souls of the victims” of the attack. American forces shot down 29 Japanese planes, and sank five midget submarines and one submarine.

Fifteen Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the attack, while 51 received the Navy Cross, four received the Distinguished Service Cross, and 53 received the Silver Star.

It is estimated that 161,000 American military personnel were killed in action while fighting in the Pacific Theater. The war lasted for three years and nine months, with the end taking place when Japan signed surrender documents on board the USS Missouri (BB 63) on Sept. 2, 1945.

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A personal memorial to a lost friend and SEAL on this Veterans Day

The world knew Rob Guzzo as an elite SEAL; a  wonderful father; a talented actor; an ambitious student; and a skilled athlete.


But to me, he was all these things and so much more.

Unfortunately the world lost Rob Nov. 12, 2012 — a man who  succumbed to the wounds that many do not see but are often more painful than those that bleed and scar.

Even in the midst of his pain, Rob made others happy. It was hard to know Rob’s struggle because you likely wouldn’t see it unless you knew him well or caught him in a moment he was talking about it.

But this is how I remember Rob Guzzo, and the man I had the honor to get to know and have in my life.

Rob made everyone smile.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
(Courtesy Rob Guzzo Facebook memorial page)

Rob was the guy who was always smiling. Whether he was dressing up as a Teletubby, Irishman, or making a singing lessons video, Rob did anything to get a smile out of those around him. You simply couldn’t be around Rob and not smile. He would do goofy things to make people laugh and have a little fun.

Rob was a go-getter and driven.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

This is a given, since we all know being a SEAL is no easy feat. Not only was Rob a SEAL, but he was in school to get his masters in addition to pursuing an acting career. He took his craft of acting seriously, and it was obvious he had the talent to soar. Rob was an inspiration to those around him, setting the example to go after your dreams.

Rob was an animal lover.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
(Photo courtesy Guzzo family)

He loved his dog Sammi. He treated this dog like a princess. The depth of his love could be seen in the way he cared for Sammi and how he treated her.

He was protective of those he loved.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
(Photo courtesy Rob Guzzo memorial Facebook page)

Rob would make sure I was OK if anyone bothered me, even if it was something that wasn’t a big deal. He did the same for others around him. He would make sure those he cared about were ok, even when he wasn’t.  

He was loving and sensitive more than he let on.

Rob had a wonderful, giving heart. Sometimes he put up emotional barriers, so the full extend of his loving and sensitive side wasn’t always seen. But it’s who he was. When he did open up, he was one of the most loving and emotionally aware people I knew. It was an honor to get to know the deeper side of Rob, and I will always cherish that I got to see how deep he truly was.

Rob loved his family.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
Rob with his daughter Jena Mae. (Photo courtesy Guzzo family)

Rob spoke about his mom often, and when his daughter, Jena Mae, was born, it was obvious he loved this beautiful little girl that was his twin. He also loved his military family, and you could tell in the way he talked about Marc Lee that he would have given anything for his family.

He made the world brighter.

Whether Rob was out partying, on set, with people he didn’t know or his best friends and family, he was a ray of light. No matter what Rob did, he was a ray of sunshine. His smile and personality lit up any room or environment.

The world might have lost Rob Guzzo, but it didn’t lose his memory.

These are just a few things I remember and cherish about Rob. He forever impacted my life, and he is impacting many others through his story. He is still giving back even after he has left this Earth.

Let Rob’s passing remind us that even when our brothers and sisters bring us so much sunshine, they may be fighting battles we do not see. Check on each other — even in the times that seem great.

You might not know when your buddy is drowning, and one small act of friendship and brotherhood can be the thing that saves them.

Rob’s story will be featured on “The Warfighters,” a marathon event airing Veterans Day on the History Channel. Tune in to honor this amazing man and learn more about who he was.

Rob was beyond a SEAL, and his impact will go well beyond the time we got to have him here with us.

You can also honor Rob Guzzo through a donation for The Rob Guzzo Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Plaque.

Donna Callaway is an Associate Producer and on-camera host at We Are The Mighty. She served in the Marine Corps as a logistician.

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Trump’s federal hiring freeze could impact veterans who’ve already been offered a job

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
President Donald J. Trump arrives at the Inaugural Parade during the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. Jan. 20, 2017.


In a moved that shook the federal workforce, President Trump ordered a freeze in the hiring process of all executive branch departments, effective at noon on January 22, 2017.

A report from the Office of Personnel Management estimates that veterans made up about 44 percent of new hires in the executive branch during fiscal year 2015. The total number of veterans employed was 623,755, or roughly 31 percent of the entire executive branch.

So what does this mean for veterans now in the process of seeking employment with the government? Unfortunately, even federal employees currently working in the executive branch aren’t sure.

We Are the Mighty consulted with a Division Director at one of the federal departments, who asked to remain anonymous due to the department being ordered to cease all public communications.

“We just don’t have many answers,” the source told WATM. “This is a very different political environment and we don’t know what to expect.”

We Are the Mighty obtained the “Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies,” signed by acting director of Office of Management and Budget Mark Sandy.

Sent to the heads of the departments, the memorandum read, in part, “An individual who has received a job offer/appointment prior to January 22, 2017, and who has received documentation from the agency that specifies a confirmed start date on or before February 22, 2017, should report to work on that start date.”

Individuals who were offered a position before Jan. 22 but do not have a start date (or a date after February 22) may find that employment offer rescinded. According to the Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, those positions offered will be under review.

Agencies will be tasked with considering “merit system principles, essential mission priorities, and current agency resources and funding levels” when it comes to determining whether job offers should be rescinded.

At this time, the hiring freeze applies to every executive department except for the Department of Defense, and even then, it only allows for recruiting into active duty.

The leadership in any given executive department may grant an exemption to the freeze if he or she believes it to be in the best interest of national security or public safety, according to the press release from the White House.

This public safety exemption rule could be what helps the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to attempt to fill what it might deem necessary positions among the 3,473 jobs listed on its website — though it is unclear exactly how many of those positions could be considered in the interest of national security or public safety.

That same argument can be made for a large number of positions available at the Department of Defense. As DoD employees are directly related to national security, the department seems to have wide latitude over how it will respond to the hiring freeze.

The President has given the Office of Management and Budget 90 days to present a “long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition.” Upon implementation of that plan, the executive order will expire.

This hiring freeze is part of one of the many campaign promises President Trump made last year to drastically shrink the federal government.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

MIGHTY TRENDING

Feds plan crackdown on refi schemes that target vets

Federal officials plan to crackdown on what they view as predatory lending schemes — reminiscent of the toxic practices seen during the housing boom — targeted at thousands of veterans nationwide who have VA home loans.


The abuses involve serial refinancings that generate hefty fees for lenders and loan brokers but leave borrowers in worse financial shape than they were before the transaction. Lenders are dangling teaser interest rates, “cash out” windfalls, and lower monthly payments, sometimes using shady marketing materials that resemble official information from the Department of Defense. Not infrequently, officials say, borrowers end up in negative equity positions, owing more on their loan balance than their house is worth.

Officials at the Government National Mortgage Association, better known as Ginnie Mae, say some veterans are being flooded with misleading refi offers and are signing up without assessing the costs and benefits. Some properties are being refinanced multiple times a year, thanks to “poaching” by lenders who aggressively solicit competitors’ recent borrowers to refi them again and roll the fees into a new loan balance.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
Image courtesy of USAF.

The costs to the veterans can far outweigh the relatively modest reductions in monthly payments. In an analysis of questionable refinancings, Ginnie Mae found “many” examples where the borrowers were persuaded to switch from a long-term fixed interest rate to a lower-rate, short-term adjustable, but saw the principal amount owed to the lender jump by thousands of dollars. In an average fixed-rate to adjustable-rate refi, according to data provided to me for this column, borrowers added $12,000 to their debt in order to reduce their monthly payment by $165. Just to break even on that deal would take more than six years, according to Ginnie Mae, and could push unsuspecting borrowers into negative equity.

A typical pitch for one of these loans was received recently by a veteran and his wife who live in Silver Spring, Md. Along with a fake “check” made out to the veteran in the amount of $30,000 — all he had to do to get the cash was sign up for a refi — were come-ons like this: a new 2.25 percent interest rate, no out-of-pocket expenses, a refund of his escrow money, and up to two months with zero mortgage payments.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston

“Call now and lock in your rate before rates go any higher,” urged the lender. In small print on the back of the check were a couple of key disclosures: Homeowners would have to switch from their current 3.75 percent fixed rate to a “3/1” adjustable rate that could increase 36 months after closing and rise to as high as 7.25 percent during the life of the loan. There was nothing about fees or the fact that opting for the refi could add to the family’s debt load.

VA home loans are backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and often have no down payment. Lenders who originate them receive guarantees of a portion of the loan amount against loss in the event of a default. Ginnie Mae bundles VA and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans into mortgage bonds, which are then purchased by investors who receive guarantees of timely payments.

In an interview, Michael R. Bright, acting Ginnie Mae president, said some of the abuses he is seeing hark back to 2005 and 2006 — heyday years of the boom before the bust. “We’re seeing borrowers refinance three times in less than six months and (their) loan balances going up.” Homeowners also are dumping fixed-rate loans for riskier adjustables.

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs
Image from Wisconsin State Legislature.

“That was the play back then” during the boom, he said. Now it’s back.

Bright declined to name mortgage lenders who are most aggressively involved in abusive refis, but he said violators of agency rules face financial penalties and loss of eligibility to participate in bond offerings — essentially closing down their funding source.

Bottom line for VA borrowers: Look skeptically at all refi promotions. Run the numbers to see whether refinancing will leave you better off — or deeper in debt.

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