V3 Interview

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — More than 11,000 members of the military transition into civilian life each year. Some leave with a passion to start their own business, but where do you turn for help in getting your idea off the ground? There are lots of resources available.

The Small Business Administration has numerous programs to help aspiring veteran entrepreneurs including an entire office dedicated to veteran business development, the Boots to Business program offered on military bases, and the Veterans Business Outreach Center which provides business training to veterans.

Michael Schwarting, a U.S. Navy veteran and founder of Knockerball Hampton Roads, decided that when he finished serving he wanted to go into business for himself.

“There’s a lot more demand on service members, the guys and gals today more than ever before, so they become very entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial in nature,” he said. “I looked at my experience and how could I bring that in to the marketplace.”

Veterans not only make excellent employees, but they also make excellent business owners.

Schwarting said, “Veterans today, they have ideas. They’ve got wisdom. They have experiences. They know how to make quick corrections, and come up with concepts and ideas that really help big industry. They just need to get in front of the right people with their ideas.”

When it comes time to making the decision about separating from the service, Michael recommends you be proactive, because at the end of the day, the responsibility really falls on the shoulders of the veterans themselves.

To check out all the programs offered to veterans looking to start their own business check out the Small Business Administration’s website.

With an influx of highly trained, disciplined and hardworking veterans entering the civilian workforce each year, it is sometimes harder for a veteran to navigate the job hunt. There are programs instituted by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services to help with that problem.

A unique program offered is called the Virginia Values Veterans, or V3 for short.

“V3 is a program that is designed to educate employers in the Commonwealth, so that they can train, hire and retain their veterans into their work force,” explained Michael Bluemling, Jr. of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services.

The program is easy to access online.

There are thousands serving in the military solely as caregivers to our wounded soldiers and sailors. These medical professionals have an even tougher time finding work outside of the military due to a lack of civilian credentialing.

There is a program specifically for that. It’s called the Military Medics and Corpsmen Program (MMAC).

Mark Whiting spearheads the program for Virginia.

“The MMAC is a pathway to a career, credentialing, and continued caring for military veterans and transitioning military members who have been trained,” he said. “One of the things that makes our program particularly special is we are the only state in the entire nation offering this opportunity.”

Hundreds of veterans have been placed through this program throughout Hampton Roads due to a special partnership that the program has with all the healthcare providers here.

To seamlessly mend all these pieces together there has to be a middleman, someone to handle all the questions and concerns, and steer you in the right direction. That’s where VTAP — the Veteran Transition Assistance Program — comes into play.

No matter where your post-military life takes you, employment assistance is never too far away.

You can access more information about all the programs and benefits available to veterans through the Virginia Department of Veterans Services website.


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