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Hoosier Heroes: Boot camp helps disabled veterans become entrepreneurs

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Nov. 7, 2014) - A week-long event at Purdue University's Krannert School of Management is helping veterans get a new start on life, and it's part of a special boot camp for injured and disabled vets who want to start their own business.

It’s called the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), and it’s specifically designed for post 9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities.

“Some of the people here they want to open restaurants or open business consulting companies,” said veteran Hallie Hanlon-Ward, who owns a consulting business.

“It’s really a very interesting and rewarding experience,” said Air Force veteran Kimble Stohry, a Shelbyville native and Purdue graduate taking part in the program.

All week, the event has been full of special moments. The veterans all got to meet the football team, and one of them even had the chance to give the players a pep talk.

“Working with these other veterans has been absolutely amazing, because we all have different experiences in the military,” said veteran business owner Michael Barbera.

“I learn more from them about life and what it means to move forward, how to overcome struggles and really what it means to sacrifice because many of them have sacrificed so much,” said the program’s academic director, Elaine Mosakowski. “Watching them go through these struggles with such persistence, it’s really inspiring.”

The Krannert School of Management is one of eight schools nationwide participating in the program. All week, the veterans have been hearing from dozens of business experts in intensive all-day sessions.

Friday night, that group of veterans, from all around the country, will participate in their graduation ceremony at the Purdue Armory.

Some of them already have started a business, some of them say this is the kind of training they needed to have to help make it happen.

“The first thing I want to say is thank you,” said Stohry. “I’m thankful for the men and women who sacrificed so I have freedom, and that kind of puts it all in context.”

Hoosier Heroes is an Emmy Award-winning segment that focuses on Indiana veterans. View other Hoosier Heroes stories here.