Mays Business School at Texas A&M University is joining a consortium led by Syracuse University in a new program designed to assist veterans with disabilities. Called Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EVB), this program will offer training in small business start-up and management to service men and women injured in the line of duty since 2001. Also in the consortium are the business schools of UCLA and Florida State.

“Agreeing to join this consortium was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made,” said Ricky Griffin, interim dean at Mays. “I believe that EBV has the potential to truly impact our society. I’m proud that Mays Business School will be a part of this.”

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As the war in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, it is estimated that the number of service people wounded in the war on terror is now nearly 40,000. Additionally, the number of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress and other psychological challenges resulting from their service suggests the number of Americans disabled supporting military operations since 9/11 has exceeded 100,000. For many of these Americans, traditional employment may represent a lifelong challenge.

“Our involvement in this very special program is a reflection of the values we hold dear at the Mays Business School and the priority we place upon entrepreneurship education,” said Richard Lester, clinical associate professor and director of academic entrepreneurship programs at Mays. Lester says there is an “impending crisis looming for disabled veterans…as regards long-term employment opportunities,” and he hopes that Mays involvement in this innovative program will help the student-veterans “to take charge of their futures” through owning their own businesses.

In response to the needs of this population of self-sacrificing Americans, Syracuse University created the EVB program and enrolled their first class of 20 participants in the summer of 2007. The program integrates world-class faculty, entrepreneurs, disability experts and business professionals in an educational program focused on training veterans in the competencies associated with small business ownership.

The four-university EBV partnership will dramatically expand the reach of the program started at Syracuse. At all four institutions, the EBV curriculum will be standardized, ensuring that all participants receive a consistent, high-quality experience. This consortium represents one of the first, significant partnerships since World War II among some of the country’s most prestigious business schools focused specifically on opening the doors of America’s colleges and universities to veterans motivated by business ownership.

The EBV program is offered in three phases. Phase I is a self-study session in which the veterans complete courses through online discussions moderated by university faculty. Phase II requires that participants travel to their participating EBV university, where they will become immersed in a nine-day residency, learning to develop their own business concepts and understanding the basic elements of small business management. Phase III involves 12 months of ongoing support and mentorship provided to the veterans from the faculty experts at the EBV universities. Throughout the EBV experience, students engage in experimental workshops to write business plans, raise capital, attract customers, and develop a marketing strategy that is most effective for their business model.

For the participating veterans, the program will be entirely free, including travel and accommodations.

To apply, or for more information, visit http://whitman.syr.edu/eee/veterans or contact Richard Lester at rlester@mays.tamu.edu.

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