Four years later, he is driving long hauls again, but now in the U.S. as one of a growing number of veterans turning entrepreneur. The Navy veteran who had seen his post-war life spiraling out of control says his Connecticut-based car transportation business has helped to put him on the road to recovery.
Young received training to run his enterprise through a program for disabled veterans at the University of Connecticut, one of many efforts emerging nationwide to help returning service members start small businesses.
“The biggest thing I got out of it was, no matter what, don’t give up on your idea,” said Young, 26. “Basically it’s like in the military. Just accomplish the mission. That is your job, to accomplish your mission, no matter what.”
More than 200,000 people are discharged from the U.S. military each year, and advocates say they often possess qualities that make good entrepreneurs: resourcefulness, a taste for risk-taking and a can-do attitude. Nonprofit groups, state governments and U.S. agencies are all providing business training aimed at giving them new purpose and easing their transition to civilian life.
Already, veterans are well-represented in the entrepreneurial ranks. Nearly one in 10 small businesses are veteran-owned, and retired service members are at least 45 percent more likely than those without active-duty military experience to be self-employed, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. As troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, some see an opportunity not only to help them find work, but for veteran entrepreneurs to provide a jolt to the U.S. economy.
“We think this is an opportunity where we’re going to have a lot of veterans who have the right skills to be entrepreneurs,” said Rhett Jeppson, associate administrator for veterans’ business development at the SBA. “We can help prepare them for the opportunities out there.”