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Krannert School of Management

Purdue Entrepreneurship Bootcamp prepares veterans with disabilities for startup success

We recently celebrated Veterans Day – a day to honor our military veterans and the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation. We have called on these men and women to serve in Afghanistan, Iraq and in conflicts around the world. As veterans, we call on them again to apply their leadership, discipline and problem-solving skills to serve our nation as entrepreneurs and job creators.

Photo of EBV graduate Gloria Maddox and Krannert Dean Chris Earley

Celebrating graduation with EBV student Gloria Maddox.

At the Krannert School of Management we are proud to be one of eight universities across the country that offers the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV). Students complete an online program, travel to Purdue University for an intensive nine-day program and then stay connected with our faculty, campus resources and program mentors as a follow-up to on-campus instruction. Earlier this month we completed our fourth annual EBV program with 26 students graduating.

The program is offered at no cost to post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities who are passionate about small business ownership. It is privately funded by donations to the Krannert School of Management and the National EBV Consortium. Accenture provided major financial and instructional support for the program at Purdue along with many other generous sponsors.

Every member of the teaching faculty, including many Purdue professors, volunteered their time and expertise as a way of giving back. We also now have several hundred, yes several HUNDRED, volunteers from our student body who are helping with the program. Even our welcome-to-campus barbecue featuring country singer Michael Peterson was provided at minimal cost because of Michael’s passion for the EBV program.

The EBV students learned from Purdue faculty and staff about micro markets, elevator pitches, employee management, commercialization plans, legal issues, negotiation, social media, sales and much, much more. They heard entrepreneurial insights from Bill Oesterle, co-founder of Angie’s List; Scott Wise, restauranteur and founder of Scotty’s Brewhouse; Roland Parrish, president, CEO and owner of Parrish McDonald’s Restaurants; and many others.

Here is what retired Lt. Col. Craig Triscari, a 2012 graduate of the program, had to say: “I witnessed veterans coming out of their dark places and experiencing a sense of worth that they seemed to have lost after leaving the service. The program provided a reconnection of the brotherhood, but armed them with a firm base of knowledge on becoming an entrepreneur. It inspired the EBV students to be more and to strive for a better business future.”

We sincerely hope our EBV students have learned as much from us about how to build and sustain a successful business as we have learned from them about courage, resilience and the strength of the human spirit.

Warm Regards,





Chris Earley
Dean, Krannert School of Management

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  • Brice Johnson
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    As a Purdue alumnus and Veteran with disabilities, I am moved by this effort and want to volunteer to help.

    Fully two decades since my service with the USAF, I still face challenges – but have learned to manage them and myself exceedingly better through the help of higher education, a lot of generous people, professional care with VA, and the Grace of God.

    Most returning Veterans were babies when I was in the service, so literally and sincerely I have gained a lifetime of experience in coming to peace with my demons, and continuously improving toward being the best me I can be.

    It’s unfortunate that it took so many years to find my miracle cure, but thankfully God saw fit that I found it. My wish for this new generation of Veterans is to do better than I did at finding their cure(s) sooner, so I’ll share it and hope that those reading will get a jump on accelerating their healing.

    Academics. Tunnel-vision focus on learning and growing for a sustained period was excellent therapy. After years of effectively managing others, I (finally) learned to manage myself. Well…better.

    Take my word, functioning with ADHD and PTSD is a continuous effort, but if I can do it so can you.

    It’s a tragedy that many, many, Post-9/11 Veterans aren’t using their GI Bill benefits. Several government agencies and academic organizations are in full-court press trying to find out why and what to do about it. My fear is that this issue will get researched to death with no positive outcome. The reasons are elementary and curable.
    Academia, bureaucratic as it can be, can still achieve remarkable improvement in this regard – with minimal effort, slightly modified approaches, and taking a lesson from Leadership as we know it – removing the (artificial; systemic) barriers to access and excellence is universally and mutually beneficial. The Purdue Entrepreneurship Bootcamp sure seems like a giant leap in the right direction, and it doesn’t surprise me that the term “Purdue” is in the title.

    Regardless of area of study, Purdue produces problem solvers. I know, I’m one of them and when asked to describe my profession this is my standard answer. After all, people wouldn’t hire me (or anyone else) if they could solve their own problems, right?

    To the Veteran with reservations about (re)entering academia, please accept my sincere advice and RUN! Get into the classroom! Get into a regionally accredited school though, and stay clear of the profiteer corporate “nationally” accredited “shopping center” student debt mills. Sure, there will be challenges, you’ll get help. Go!

    Follow-on advice: Stop keeping secrets and advocate for yourself and your brethren. I have PTSD. I’ve met thousands of others who also do. You’re in great company! DO NOT suffer in silence. You had the courage to face all the evils mankind could think of, now allow yourself to experience all the kindnesses so many are anxious to share.

    Academics gave me fantastic opportunity to know myself, become a high-achieving leader, fall in love with learning, and refocus and channel my energy on cultivating a better me – and I needed every bit of that. I channeled enough energy that I graduated with distinction! Go figure. The guy who barely made it out of high school…ha! If I can, you can.

    In addition to getting to know myself, and gaining a very well-rounded education, I found that I really love research and writing and continue doing it on my own long after graduation. Again, hyper-focusing on positive efforts keeps my mind happy.

    I was never the smartest person in any classroom, but my former cohort members and faculty will tell you I was very often the hardest working. I miss that and desperately want to get back into school. In fact, I want to teach! Having lots of passion, strong work ethics, and very significant and solid technical understanding of Leadership and Design & Construction (my industry of 20 years) will make me very effective at the head of a classroom.

    Carrying the lessons and memories of so many mentor-roll models from Purdue and my other undergrad school is an added bonus, and I’ll work my whole life to repay and pay forward their generosity of time and knowledge.

    My adventure, my healing in academia, also made me a better husband and father.

    PLEASE go to school!

    Seeking help early, often, and continually is the very best advice I can offer anyone who carries any burden. Why carry it? Lighten your load!

    The VA has been excellent. Today’s VA…well…isn’t your fathers VA. we can all take pride in living in a country which despite its political divides over seemingly everything unites in support of its Veterans and is never satisfied or complacent in support of its wounded warriors.

    Finally, Entrepreneurship isn’t just about owning a business. Entrepreneurship is equally applicable to developing the future manager, leader, follower, parent, scout leader, and more. I sincerely hope and pray that the program gets flooded with participants and wish I could volunteer to help in some way. I’d happily plan vacation time to do it and look forward to it as another growth opportunity in my journey of continuous improvement.

    PS: If you are a Service Disabled Veteran you MUST consider the vast opportunities available to you as a Service Disabled Veteran Small Business Enterprise (business owner). This boot camp can give you the confidence you need to get into and complete a degree program and then apply the new learning to an immensely successful business. RUN!

    Thanks Dr. Earley and God bless you all.

  • Brenda Jarden Holter
    Posted December 7, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your hospitality and your “perfect” EBV staff. This bootcamp meant a lot to us. It was well organized with the right type of speakers. Your beautiful wife was in tuned with us and the program’s needs and Melissa, Brenda and the students were the ideal people to have to pull this off. We realize that it was a lot of work and so we remain eternally grateful. Thank you again.

  • Posted February 25, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    ALL EBVers: I know that I couldn’t be too far off to blog on this phenomenon, that there is but one common intellectual emotion among every fellow EBV 2012 graduates concerning your profoundly well planned program delivery – GRATITUDE.
    The human capital and effort that went into this event matches none that I have ever experienced in my entire life. I am sure I speak for everyone by expressing my sincerest heartfelt appreciation to everyone affiliated with Purdue’s Krannert School of Management EBV Program – Our lives have been forever CHANGED.
    Once more we are tasked with a mission greater than the sum of all of us. You made us realize the essence of service to our country, and the foretold history of how we the Veterans have always been in the epicenter of country’s support. You opened our eyes and strengthened our belief in ourselves of moving our nation forward to a better quality of life for everyone willing to work hard for the greater good is paramount. You helped us remember history that has been proven over that small business owners like us can indeed rebuild our shaken, but not lost infrastructure. Most importantly your support and genuine interest in our mission and vision have helped us realize we have already succeeded before we even began. Thank you.

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