That’s not the American spirit that made this country great. Nor will it generate growth and prosperity.
Consider another group: our veterans.
Even though nearly one in five return from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD or other traumatic injuries that hinder their return to work, they’re not out trashing their country, bemoaning their fates, or telling the government to do more.
Instead, they live the American spirit of gratitude, resilience, and hard work.
One privately funded initiative--the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV)—is a perfect example. It’s an innovative program that demonstrates the greatness of the American spirit. And it serves as a powerful reminder that, because of our freedoms—and the sacrifices of those who secure them--we can change lives for the better.
The EBV program “offers cutting edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their service to our country.” Veterans take on-line classes and attend an intensive short course (“boot camp”) that gives them new skills, mentors, and technical support—all the help they need to create successful business plans and become entrepreneurs.
The graduates receive ongoing support as they set up their businesses and apply what they’ve learned. A parallel program offers identical training to family members who care for disabled veterans and for surviving spouses of veterans killed in service.
Begun as a single program at Syracuse University, seven universities now participate, helping veterans realize their dreams and regain their independence.
It’s a fantastic program that’s been incredibly successful.
Because of the American spirit.
Randy Blass, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who directs Florida State’s EBV program says, "We don't coddle…We also don't dwell. We don't even really talk about their disabilities." Rather than being held back by what they don’t have, they make the best of what they do have. "We talk about business," Blass said. "We are going forward. We are not looking backwards."
And these veterans are conscious of the good they can do for others—not through military bravery this time, but through job creation and their own contributions.
"Being an entrepreneur means that I have the ability to control my destiny, to make a difference in the world in my own way," says one veteran."The only limits that are set for me as an entrepreneur are those that I set for myself.”
It’s a lesson the pessimists and ‘Occupiers’ would do well to learn.
This Thanksgiving, thank God for the blessing of freedom. And, even if you are financially less well-off this year than last, consider making a gift to EBV at www.EBVFoundation.orgso that those who have successfully defended your freedom can learn to succeed in the business world too.
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