Miguel Pilgram: A Man of Honor

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Miguel Pilgram Sistrunk Developer

Navy Veteran Wins 52 Million, Creates Company to Transform Sistrunk and Downtown Fort Lauderdale Areas

Fort Lauderdale, Florida– “I didn’t create it because I had to, I created it because I wanted to,” explained Miguel Pilgram of his eponymous real estate company, The Pilgram Group. Pilgram, who is developing a trio of properties in the Sistrunk and downtown areas of Fort Lauderdale, started his career in the military and served as a Petty Officer in the US Navy in Desert Storm. While serving, he learned the skill that would be the key to his success today, which, according to Pilgram, is to be “fully committed to what you are are doing, and don’t leave anything to chance.”

After the Navy, he put that knowledge to use working security in the casinos in the US and Asia. But he missed the travel the Navy afforded, so he jumped at the chance to work abroad for Star Cruises, a Chinese/Malaysian company. That job brought him to China, where he tackled Mandarin, traveled extensively, and learned the way business is conducted in Asia. In 2002, Star Cruises purchased Norwegian Cruise Lines. Pilgrim was tapped to assist in the handover of the global security/surveillance program. “Not only did I have years of experience, it really helped to have an American who had been successful working within the Chinese mindset,” Pilgram explains. “The Chinese are extraordinary in that they are always thinking like entrepreneurs. Even if they work a 9 – 5 job, they aspire to be the best…they own it. They act collectively by instinct, and never think twice about sacrificing personally for the greater good.”

He worked for NCL for a decade, becoming second in command of Global Security and Surveillance in 2007. “Since I was constantly on a plane,! I had time to noodle around with my 401K in the stock market a bit, and developed rigid parameters,” says Pilgrim. His systematic approach to picking stocks provided an exponential return on a small four-figure investment that enabled Pilgram to buy his first property.

But as good as he was at picking stocks, he turned out to be even better at picking lottery numbers, winning a $52 million jackpot in the Florida lottery back in 2010. He elected to take the lump sum of $29 million and eventually wound down his responsibilities with Norwegian Cruise Lines to focus full-time on The Pilgram Group. In business since 2010, TPG focuses on renovating commercial, residential and maritime real estate, mostly in the Fort Lauderdale area, and tapping opportunities that help the community. TPG’s first substantial project was a 16-unit residential property in Coral Springs, which was sold after 3 years for a 35% gain. In 2015, TPG created the New York Subs and Wings brand, and launched a food truck to support the brand while they ready a new space. One of the biggest projects to date was the renovation of a marina and residential property in Las Olas on Hendricks Isle…that is, until now.

Currently, Pilgram is placing his faith — and his money — in the Sistrunk and downtown areas of Fort Lauderdale. Sistrunk used to be the richest black community in the area and has a robust, exciting history. Then in the 1980’s, the neighborhood saw a downturn. “Now that it is enjoying a renaissance,” Pilgram asserts, “I am immensely proud to be a part of that.” His company recently purchased three properties in the downtown and Sistrunk areas, all to be renovated and re-purposed by the group. “We’re taking advantage of proximity to the courthouse complex by offering services that are sorely lacking in the neighborhood,” he adds. First to open in early summer 2017 will be an executive office workspace called The Pilgram Group Executive Offices at 111 SW 6th Street. Vast expanses of marble in warm tones and bleached hardwood floors contrast bright orange walls for a modern, but not cold, feeling. Offices are available to rent for 6 months or more, and all have access to high-end amenities such as a 16-seat conference room equipped with the latest video conferencing equipment, a receptionist, a kitchen and a high speed copier.

Next will be the new home of New York Subs and Wings, a “fast casual” restaurant in a former office building at 100 S.W. Sixth Street that will bring the same food from the previous Oakland Park restaurant. That building will also house a jazz lounge called NYSW Jazz Lounge which will feature both indoor and terrace seating, a bar menu, and a wide range of jazz styles, as well as spoken word performances and Sunday afternoon movies for local kids. “We’ll present all sorts of musicians but will always try to showcase local talent.” Both the restaurant and club are slated to open no later than Labor Day of 2017. When asked about future projects, Pilgram explains, “I’m always looking for properties that will fit the portfolio and lift up the community where I live and work!” In fact, The Pilgram group just closed on a property in Sistrunk at 1448 NW 6th Street, and sold a parcel at 100 SW 6th Street to a developer who intends to put up a 30-storey residential tower. According to Pilgram, that property was purchased for $800,000 and sold three years later for $2 million – but while he doesn’t mind playing “The Pilgram Group Monopoly” when he receives an offer he can’t refuse, his heart is in developing the area to meet the needs of the community, and in so doing, provide the higher tide that lifts all the area’s boats.

Many people ask why he still works, when he could be “living the life”. The answer comes easily to Pilgram, who brought his children and other relatives into the business with him. “I lived in a great place and drove a Benz before I won the lottery, thanks to hard work and discipline. Now that I have even more means, I feel a responsibility to give back, not only by helping my family through meaningful jobs, but also by creating a stronger, more vibrant a community.” He still works 12 – 14 hours per day, but does it happily, because he is seeing his vision come to life. “My family is a military family — my Dad was in Vietnam, my sister and I were in Desert Storm, my brother served in the Navy, and now my son is in the Navy — so the idea of discipline and service to something greater than yourself is in my DNA,” he asserts.” That’s why along with his business, Pilgram spends considerable time on charitable initiatives.

Not surprisingly, Pilgram’s community support mirrors his personal interests. Mission United is an organization that offers one-on-one mentoring to veterans, with a special focus on those who want to be self-employed. Because of the fond memories of how the YMCA taught him how to swim, he has been active with the Y and the Boys and Girls Club. “Writing checks is certainly part of it, but I love to become personally involved with the organizations that I support, and gladly give as much of my time as I can,” Pilgram says.

Pilgram signs his emails “A Man of Honor” and he truly is the embodiment of this sentiment. From his discipline in assembling real estate holdings, to his creativity in renovating/repurposing them, to his passion for helping those who need a hand, he is a unique force in the South Florida business world. “My goal is to leave a legacy,” he states, with typical succinctness. “I want to leave my ‘communities’ — both my family and the Sistrunk/downtown areas — stronger, happier and more vibrant than before.”

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U.S. Department of Labor Announces Final Week to Apply for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award

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HIRE Vets banner

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor reminds the nation’s job creators they have one week left to submit their application for the 2019 HIRE Vets Medallion Award. The application period for the inaugural award closes on April 30, 2019.

Through the HIRE Vets Medallion Award, the Department will recognize employers of all sizes – ranging from small businesses and non-profit organizations to large businesses – for their leadership in recruiting, employing and retaining America’s veterans.

Applications for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award are evaluated on a range of criteria that include veteran hiring and retention rates, as well as the availability of veteran-specific resources, leadership programs, dedicated human resources, and compensation and tuition assistance programs. To apply, employers must meet and verify award requirements, complete the online application on HireVets.gov, pay the application fee, and ensure compliance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).

President Donald J. Trump signed the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017 (HIRE Vets Act) into law on May 5, 2017, creating the only federal-level award that recognizes the commitment of job creators to hire America’s veterans.

To learn more and apply for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award, please visit HireVets.gov. Applications will be accepted until April 30, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Man Taught Himself to Play the Trumpet Solely So He Could Play Taps for Fallen Soldiers

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Gary Marquardt In Full Dress Uniform Playing Trumpet For Fallen Soldier

It’s never too late to pay your respects to the fallen – and for Gary ­Marquardt, that meant learning to play the trumpet at 66 years old.

Marquardt was just a youngster when he enlisted in the military and waited to be drafted for the Vietnam War. Due to a bleeding ulcer, however, he was deemed unfit to serve.

Years later, he finally found a means of atoning for his guilt over not being able to fight alongside his fellow soldiers.

In 2014, Marquardt had been attending the funeral of a military friend when he was stunned to hear a mechanical recording of a bugle playing taps. He couldn’t help but be bothered by the lack of live music to honor a fallen soldier – so he walked into a music store and started learning to play the trumpet.

Much to the dismay of his wife and neighbors, Marquardt practiced day and night.

“It was awful,” Marquardt’s wife told KARE11 with a laugh. “Seemed like every 15 minutes, it was all the time. We were all hoping he would get better. And then he did.”

Sure enough, Marquardt managed to become a bona fide trumpeter. He then started using his newfound skill to visit local cemeteries and play taps at the gravestones of recently deceased veterans and soldiers.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Communicating with Veterans in the Workplace—A Guide for Supervisors And Managers

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female supervisor shaking hands with veteran employee

Creating a well-functioning and welcoming work environment for veteran employees can improve the work environment for all employees. Effective communication has been shown to lead to improved performance and morale.

Following is a list of communication tips that managers or supervisors may find helpful when bringing veterans on board at work.

General Communication

Be straightforward and direct in both written and spoken communication.
✪ Listen when you are not speaking. Paraphrase and reflect back what someone has said to make sure you understood correctly.
✪ Keep your voice volume at a moderate level.
✪ Avoid using an angry, threatening, or demeaning tone of voice.

Assigning Tasks

✪ Be clear about your expectations. Specify what you expect an employee to do or accomplish with a task.
✪ Consider giving written instructions or expected outcomes of a task.
✪ If you are unsure about your clarity, ask the employee to summarize what you have said and are requesting of them. Confirm or correct the employee’s response.
✪ Clearly designate responsibility for tasks and projects, especially when assigning a task or project to a team of employees.
✪ When assigning work to a team, make sure there is an identified leader or point person.
✪ Make sure deadlines are clear and manageable.

Communicating Limits and Standards

✪ Set clear limits and observe them. Be consistent.
✪ Be clear about standards for promotion.
✪ Give praise and recognition for work well done.
✪ Be clear about the consequences of unacceptable behavior.
✪ When correcting an employee, that at the base when you get your discharge papers, and learn to ask for everything. Asking for an opportunity shows you are eager and motivated to get to work. While not second nature, this mindset will pay dividends.describe what can be observed, not what you suspect.

Managing Conflict

✪ Do not avoid or ignore conflict.
✪ Have a plan or process for managing conflict. Make sure employees know this plan so they can act appropriately when conflict arises.
✪ Check with your Human Resources office to see if your company already has a protocol for how to deal with conflict, or if there is someone to help deal with conflict in the workplace (e.g., an ombudsman).
✪ Have the discussion in a neutral setting that allows for privacy (e.g., a conference room with a door).
✪ Identify the goal of the discussion (e.g., gathering information, generating a solution) and stick to the goal.
✪ Focus on the facts and the identified problem.
✪ If multiple people are involved, let each person have time to describe what he or she sees as the problem. Use a time limit if needed.
✪ Listen actively and paraphrase what was said. Ask for clarification when needed.
✪ Do not focus on emotions or the person.
✪ Use objective, professional language.
✪ Avoid judgmental comments or making generalizations.
✪ Do not interrupt or let others interrupt.
✪ When generating possible solutions, be flexible and offer options when possible.

How to Address a Performance Problem

✪ Identify the changes in performance that need to take place for the employee to be successful.
✪ Meet with the employee to discuss the performance problem or deficiency. Do not wait until a performance review. Use a private setting (e.g., an office with a door) in order to protect confidentiality and to maintain the employee’s dignity.
✪ When meeting with the employee, explain, in detail, the performance issues and explain why it is important for the performance to improve and meet the job standards. Be specific. Stick to the facts. Have documentation available. Discuss the performance issues and behaviors, not the person.
✪ Gain agreement on the deficiencies and agreement on the standards the employee must achieve.
✪ Focus on the performance standards required for the job.
✪ Agree on solutions and ask what the employee needs to perform the job successfully, such as more training or other resources. Agree on the plan and the time frames expected for improving the performance.
✪ Advise the employee of the consequences if the performance does not improve.
✪ Set up regular feedback meetings with the employee to discuss the progress (i.e., every Friday to go over the week’s results).
✪ If the employee does not meet the expectations outlined in the plan, consult with your Human Resource office and follow your company policies and procedures on the next steps (e.g., written warning, suspension).

Source: va.gov

Government Contracting for Your Veteran-Owned Business

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Transitioning Veteran to small business owner

By Larry Stubblefield

GWACs, IDIQs, T&M—oh my! To a new business owner, these acronyms look like alphabet soup. To government entities, they look like work. But to a veteran business owner competing for a government contract, “GWAC, IDIQ, and T&M” look like opportunity.

To start off, the terms GWAC, IDIQs, and T&M are different types of government contracts—federal, state, and/or local. Known as government contracting to some, and procurement to others, selling to the government may provide you with a channel of revenue you may not have previously considered. And, with federally mandated service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) contract spends and the increased desire for supply chain diversity, you’re well positioned to take your business’ products and services to the government marketplace.

Full of jargon and complex processes, learning how to navigate the complex landscape of government contracting can be a difficult process if you try to tackle it alone. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but why re-invent the wheel when you don’t have to? Here are a few ways to start and grow your business in the federal marketplace.

  • Sign up for a training course. The Veteran Federal Procurement Entrepreneurship Training Program (VFPETP) prepares veteran business owners with the knowledge and skills they need to tackle government contracting. The program is delivered by the National Center for Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) and provides three different courses depending on where you are in your contracting journey:
  • VIP START: designed for veteran-owned businesses that want to enter or expand their business growth into the federal marketplace
  • VIP GROW: designed for veteran-owned businesses to increase their ability to win government contracts by establishing best business practices
  • VIP INTERNATIONAL: designed for veteran-owned small businesses that want to enter and/or expand their federal and commercial contracting opportunities overseas

Fun fact: VIP GROW graduates report an increase in their revenue by an average of 54 percent within their first year of completing the program.

  • Explore SBA’s free online tools. The federal contracting section of the SBA website contains easy-to-digest information on contracting assistance and specialized areas of government contracting (women-owned businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned, minority-owned, etc.). There’s also a Government Contracting 101 learning course available through the SBA Learning Center.
  • Connect with a trusted adviser. Local SBA resources. such as the Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), District Offices, and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), can either provide you with the procurement expertise you may need—or direct you to a professional who can.
  • Network with other veteran-owned businesses who are already involved in government contracting. Many organizations will host events focused on government contracting, and just government in general. Attend and meet other veteran business owners who have contracting experience—the best advice comes from those who have lived it!

To learn more about the tools available for veteran, service member, National Guard or Reserve, and military spouse entrepreneurs, visit sba.gov/veterans.

Free for Active Duty Military: National Veterans Memorial and Museum

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Veterans-Memorial-museum

National Veterans Memorial & Museum (NVMM) recently announced that it will offer free entry for any US Military Veteran, Active-Duty Military Member and Gold Star Families.

The NVMM is the first and only nationally designated museum in the United States dedicated to honoring veterans, and just opened in October 2018 in Columbus, OH.

A few key highlights visitors and locals can look forward to:

  • A Museum About Veterans and For Veterans: Exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates created an exhibition that is focused on the people – the soldier, the military personnel, the family member of a veteran – and their narrative journeys. Through personal artifacts, imagery and videos of veterans telling their story in their own words, the exhibitions draw in visitors and give them a sense of what veterans have gone through during their military service, highlighting the historical and contemporary examples of veterans’ stories. Rather than focus exclusively on combat and war, this exhibition narrative will explore the transformative experience of military service while connecting it to the broader idea of public and community service. The aim: to stimulate an ongoing dialogue to increase connections between civilians and veterans.
  • Pioneering in Education – Finally a Platform for Vets’ Stories to Be Told and Heard: The NVMM is the only place where the stories of our veterans, their families and the fallen – across all branches of service and all eras of conflict – are told together. The museum bridges historical events to current concerns and strengthens understanding and respect between veterans and civilians. This cultural institution stands as a place of inspiration for all visitors to come together as one people with a common bond and a shared pride in our veterans.
  • A New Architectural Icon: The building architect, Allied Works Architecture, has designed aNational Veterans Memorial Museum massive concrete arch structure (made up of a whopping 28 million pounds of concrete) with a glass curtainwall system and spiral processional, rising to a rooftop sanctuary – truly setting this museum apart The landscape architect, OLIN (the masterminds behind Bryant Park and Columbus Circle), designed the surrounding 2.5-acre Memorial Grove as a place for reflection. At the center of a circular path, there will be a grove of trees, designating the area as a sacred place to honor and memorialize veterans.
  • A Unique Philanthropic Effort: Most fundraising projects are fueled by a group close to a cause – this is a unique exception. While many veterans have played a critical role in the project’s bottom line, the largest private investors – Les and Abigail Wexner – committed to the project not because of particular ties to the military but because of their strong commitment to the community. They invested in the cultural credibility of the Region, and in the importance of not only supporting our veterans, but educating the public on their stories and service. The project received more than $82 million.

For more information visit; National Veterans Memorial & Museum.

The Chiefs’ star quarterback spends his free time building houses for veterans

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The biggest new star quarterback of NFL doesn’t get a lot of free time. Practicing is as important as game time, so when the time comes to relax, it’s understandable that a young football star might actually rest. But it turns out Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs’ young QB, is a star both on and off the field.

The second-year QB spent his day off helping build transitional housing for veterans in the Kansas City area with The Veterans Community Project, a non-profit that’s building a specialized community network of tiny homes and services dedicated to supporting every man and woman who served — also known as Tiny Houses for Homeless Vets.

The founder of the Veterans Community Project, Chris Stout, is a former U.S. Army corporal who was wounded in Afghanistan. His own transition into civilian life was marked by trouble with PTSD and employment issues. Though not homeless himself, he told CNN he was shocked at the inefficiencies he witnessed in the programs designed to help vets escape homelessness.

When Stout discovered homeless vets shunned shelters because they were unsafe and lacked privacy, he paid for hotel rooms out of his own pocket to keep these heroes off the street — but that too was inefficient. Eventually, he and his friends left their jobs to start the VCP, helping veterans first and asking questions later.

For the complete article, continue on to We Are The Mighty.

11 Ways to Celebrate Yours During Month of the Military Child

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Month of the Military Child

April is designated as the Month of the Military Child, underscoring the important role military children play in the armed forces community. Sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, the Month of the Military Child is a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.

The Month of the Military Child is part of the legacy left by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He established the Defense Department commemoration in 1986.

DoDEA joins the Department of Defense and the military community in celebrating April as the Month of the Military Child. In DoDEA communities around the world, our most essential strategic imperatives are: establishing an educational system that progressively builds the college and career readiness of all DoDEA students; and establishing the organizational capacity to operate more effectively and efficiently as a model, unified school system. We aim to challenge each student to maximize his or her potential and to excel academically, socially, emotionally and physically for life, college and career readiness.

Throughout the month, DoDEA will encourage schools to plan special events to honor military children and have administrators and principals incorporate the themes of this month into their every day duties and responsibilities. These efforts and special events will stress the importance of providing children with quality services and support to help them succeed in the mobile military lifestyle.

Tips for you and yours:

1. Wear Purple

April 15th is Purple Up! Day, an opportunity for Americans everywhere to show support for military children. Pick your favorite shade of purple and wear it all day long to raise awareness of the sacrifices military families make, but especially kids. Let your child know you’re wearing purple especially for them.

2. Have a Special Date Night

With life’s chaos, it can be challenging to spend quality time with your children. This is especially true when you’re a military family just trying to get through a long deployment  or settling into a new duty station. Let your child pick a place to go and treat them to a date night. If you have multiple kids, do this with each of them individually.

3. “Share Your Story” Project

Your school-aged child might have the opportunity to do show and tell or another similar project. Use this as an opportunity to educate other students and teachers about Month of the Military Child. If your child goes to a DoD school, encourage them to do a fun presentation on all the places they’ve lived.

4. Create a Scavenger Hunt

This activity is especially fun if you’ve just relocated to a new duty station. You might do it on base in a safe place like the commissary or exchange. Create a list of items for your kids to find. Have players take pictures of items or collect listed objects. Set a timer and see who finishes first! Set behavior expectations as well prior to starting.

5. Be Genuine

Sometimes you just want to do the dishes, laundry, and a million other items on your to-do list. If sitting down and playing a board game sounds boring, but your kid would love it, give it a try.  Genuine encounter moments (call these GEM for short!), are when your kids get your full and undivided attention. Be in the moment and watch how your kids open up.

6. Host a Photoshoot

Let your child wear that colorful tutu or awesome superhero cape for a photoshoot. Call in a professional photographer or snap pics on your phone.  If you want to get super creative, have your kids help you create a backdrop and pick out props for their photoshoot. Bring in their closest military friends, too, for double the fun. Be sure to send the pics to your service member if they’re deployed.

7. Be a Guest Speaker

Young kids love to show off their parents. Whether you’re a military spouse or service member, offer to be a guest speaker in your child’s classroom during the Month of the Military Child. Share your experiences, and open the floor for discussion about military life.

8. Ask About Their Feelings

Whether it’s over dinner or a visit to an ice cream parlor, ask your kids how they’re doing. Let them lead the conversation, but sprinkle in questions like “How does that make your feel?” or “What do you think about ______?” Listen, verify, and validate their feelings. You’ll be surprised what they are willing to share if you ask in the right setting.

9. Connect With Other Military Families

When you spend quality time with other military families with kids, it can help your own child or children create their tribe. This is especially true for families within the same unit or platoon. As deployments come up, your kids can learn and grow together in the ways of military life.

10. Friday Fun

For the month of April, let your child decide what you do on Friday nights.  This will let them feel like they have a say in what family does, when they so often don’t. Consider all requests thoughtfully and make modifications as necessary. Movie nights, ordering take-out, and water balloon fights in the yard are a couple of ideas to get started.

11. Get Teachers Involved

Ask your child’s teacher if they’d be willing to plan some lessons around the military. This might be especially interesting for children to learn more about military life operations. If your family has a favorite book about deployments or military life, offer to let the teacher borrow it for a lesson or two.

Continue on Sandboxx to read the complete article.

America’s Warrior Partnership Hosts “Camouflage & Cocktails” Event to Celebrate Empowered Veterans

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Clint Romesha poses for camera in full military dress uniform with US Flag in the background

Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha, pictured left,  to speak at networking event on April 4 at 6 p.m. EST in New York City.  America’s Warrior Partnership is hosting its next “Camouflage & Cocktails” networking event to celebrate empowered military veterans.

Sponsored by First Data, OppenheimerFunds, Apollo Global Management and Natixis Investment Managers, the event will take place in New York City at Carnegie Hall on April 4 starting at 6 p.m. EST.

The event will recognize business and civic leaders who are supporting veteran-friendly workplaces and communities, while also providing attendees the opportunity to network and learn how they can contribute to the movement of empowering veterans. Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha will serve as the evening’s honorary host and speak to attendees about how communities can bridge the gap between veteran and civilian cultures.

“An empowered veteran claims the right to thrive within their community rather than simply survive, and Clint embodies that definition,” said Jim Lorraine, president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership. “It is one thing to understand what makes an empowered veteran. The true challenge lies in coming together to provide veterans with the means and opportunity to achieve the quality of life they deserve. We look forward to learning from Clint’s experiences alongside attendees as we work together to create more veteran-friendly communities.”

Before commencing the “Camouflage & Cocktails” evening event, Clint will join America’s Warrior Partnership in visiting several New York-based businesses on April 4 to speak with employees and recognize their dedication to creating veteran-friendly workplace environments. Donations raised during the evening event will support ongoing programs and initiatives from America’s Warrior Partnership that are empowering communities to empower veterans.

For more information and instructions to RSVP for the event, visit the America’s Warrior Partnership website.

About America’s Warrior Partnership

America’s Warrior Partnership is committed to empowering communities to empower veterans. We fill the gaps that exist between current veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with the veterans, military members and families in need: bolstering their efficacy, improving their results and empowering their initiatives. America’s Warrior Partnership is a force multiplier for warrior community integration that enhances communities where great Americans choose to live and contribute. For more information on the organization and how to get involved, visit AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.

Transitioning from Service to Startup

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business people shaking hands with one another in a company setting

You’ve reached a turning point in your military career. You’re transitioning from active duty to civilian and are considering business ownership as your next move.

Regardless of where you are in the entrepreneurial process—toying with a few business concepts or ready to execute your business plan—the SBA and its partner network are ready to support you.

Let your process begin with Boots to Business, a free entrepreneurship training course offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), and continue with free business counseling, mentorship, and even guidance on accessing capital for your business.

Ready for a smooth transition into business ownership? Here are a few ways you can get started.

  • Sign up for the Boots to Business course. Boots to Business is open to transitioning service members (including National Guard and Reserve) and their spouses on military installations worldwide. The course provides you with an overview of business ownership, including topics like market research, business financing, legal considerations, and additional resources to tap into throughout your entrepreneurial journey. Visit sbavets.force.com for a list of upcoming classes, then contact the transition office on your military installation to register for your desired course date.
  • Already completed your transition but still want to take the course? Boots to Business Reboot brings the course off military installations and into your community. Get in touch with your local Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) for details on upcoming course dates.
  • Connect with your local VBOC. With locations across the nation, VBOCs can provide you with business advice/recommendations and connect you with other business counselors, training programs, and referrals in the SBA network.
  • Get involved in the entrepreneurial community by attending networking events to meet other veteran entrepreneurs. Also consider online communities, which can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Reddit. These private groups allow you to connect with other veteran entrepreneurs across the globe.

To learn more about the SBA’s veterans programs, visit sba.gov/veterans.

From homeless to national champ: Army athlete rises to top of USA boxing

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As the two-time national middleweight champion, she has fought some of the world’s best boxers to earn a No. 3 international ranking.

But for a long time, Army athlete Naomi Graham had to fight her toughest opponent — herself.

Before the staff sergeant rose to the top of USA boxing, she had to overcome a mindset that began well before she ever set foot in a ring.

TOUGH LOVE

She was too nice, a coach had told her when Graham began training in 2014.

“You would never know that she’s a boxer,” said USA boxing assistant Joe Guzman, a former Army heavyweight competitor.

To become competitive in the ring, especially for the Olympics, she needed to be tougher, Guzman would say.

Graham speaks courteously and answers questions politely. In middle school, she allowed bullies to taunt her and get in her face. She never flinched, as her mother told her to avoid physical altercations, and instead tell a teacher or administrator when confronted by other children.

But one day Graham had enough. Another student threatened to fight her. Graham responded by hoisting the girl up and tossing her over a table.

“People started to leave me alone after that,” she said.

As a teen growing up in the outskirts of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Graham admittedly followed the wrong path after her graduation from Pine Forest High School in 2007. Instead of attending college courses or finding work, she enjoyed going out and spending time with friends.

Her mother, Bertha Clark, decided to show her some tough love and told her to move out of the family home. With no plan and no car, she found herself homeless in 2012, walking the suburban streets with a blanket and a few belongings.

She went to her friends’ homes asking for assistance and a place to stay.

Finally she decided to take matters into her own hands. One day while walking through a neighborhood southwest of Fayettville, she noticed an abandoned one-story house. Graham entered the backyard and found the backdoor unlocked.

She spent almost a year sneaking back into the abandoned home and sleeping in the back bedroom at night. She ate with friends when invited, but she used food stamps to get by.

One winter evening, she shuddered under her blanket in deep thought. Sitting in the darkness beneath the winter cold, she made a silent promise to herself.

“I was crying and I was basically saying, ‘this can’t be it for me,'” Graham said. “‘I know there is more to me than this.'”

She had already committed to joining the Army, but at that moment she vowed to use her Army enlistment to make a better life for herself.

For the complete article, continue on to U.S. Army.