One of the greatest obstacles faced by thousands of returning veterans who are transitioning back into civilian life is in finding long-lasting gainful employment, according to Kevin Humes, the President/CEO of American Veterans Alliance/American Alliance for Disabled Veterans (501 C-3) and co-founder of a newly launched effort to help vets find, start and grow their own home-based or other small businesses or franchises. It’s called VetPower.org.
“VetPower.org is the start of a movement, one that fosters collaboration between the public and private sectors to create small-business-ownership opportunities for returning vets in ways the government just can’t,” Humes says. And while it’s a huge undertaking, if anyone can get the job done, it’s Humes.
A medically retired disabled veteran himself and nationally recognized veterans’ rights advocate, Humes knows the task at hand is too big for any one person or even just a few. “Creating a sustainable model for how we can assist veterans who want to become entrepreneurs will require all of us to play our part,” he says.
The good news is that just weeks after VetPower.org’s official launch date there are a number of encouraging signs that Humes won’t be in it alone. Far from it, in fact. He and his co-founder, Frank Campanaro―who is the President/CEO of Trillacorpe Construction and Trillamed (both of which are Disabled Veterans-owned Small Businesses) as well as a Service Disabled U.S. Army Ranger, advocate and highly successful entrepreneur in his own right―have already garnered considerable support from an impressive array of partners. Individuals from the highest levels of government, Congress, the military and the private sector, as well as a host of national veterans’ affairs organizations such as the American Legion and the VFW, among others, have come forward to offer their services.
However, Humes knows there is still much to do. And it starts with him doing all that he can to reach out to those who matter most in making VetPower.org successful ― the veterans themselves and the individuals and companies who can and are willing to work with them.
“First, we need to get the word out that we are here to assist returning veterans as early as six months or so before they leave the service,” Humes says. “If they’re wondering whether or not business ownership is right for them or which business opportunities or franchises would be most suitable, we are here to help them assess everything from their own skills and abilities and available opportunities to financing options and the actual startup process…and everything in between and thereafter.”
Second, Humes wants to emphasize the win-win scenario that working with VetPower.org provides to business opportunity owners and franchisors. “Any private sector organization that works with us to provide legitimate home-based or other small business or franchise ownership opportunities to returning veterans is tapping into considerable potential benefits,” he says. He goes on to emphasize that these companies will not only have direct access to a highly educated, industrious, loyal and potentially very successful entrepreneurial workforce, but to any number of other government and overseas networking and sales opportunities as well.
Asked about his long-term goal for the organization, Humes envisions it as a fully developed central hub from which veterans will be able to access a full complement of services related to small business ownership. “VetPower.org will serve as both a Veteran’s Business Exchange Network and a Veteran’s Information Services and Support Clearinghouse,” he says. “We are going to create an unprecedented coalition of dedicated partners that will come together to enable vets to conquer the challenges they face on a number of levels by helping them to achieve the American Dream of owning their own business. And nobody deserves that more than they do!”