A record number of veterans will be given a crash course in entrepreneurship this week by a team of business professionals as part of the Mays Business School’s 12th annual Reynolds & Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans.

Starting today, 25 veterans from five branches of the military, ranging in age from 31 to 64, will spend the next eight days at the Texas A&M campus learning from faculty and other experts brought in by the Mays Business School’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship.

The program, during which each veteran will develop a plan for a business startup, began in 2007 at Syracuse University as a way to provide former military service members with educational opportunities they may have not received. Today, the program is hosted at 10 universities across the U.S., including Texas A&M.

“We take pride in the quality and impact of each of our center’s 30 annual programs, but EBV holds a truly special place in our hearts,” wrote McFerrin director Blake Petty in an email to The Eagle. “For these military veterans — many of whom deal with service-related disabilities — we recognize that transition back into civilian life can be daunting.

“Accepting additional risks by deciding to launch their own business only compounds these challenges, so we aim to provide a comprehensive educational experience and support network to help ensure the success of our EBV participants,” he continued. “We’ve seen this one-week intensive experience save careers, change lives and build lasting relationships between Texas A&M and these military heroes. As we prepare to launch our 12th annual EBV program, our ‘Maroon Anniversary’ requires that we once again raise the bar on our commitment to serve those who have served our country, and help them successfully launch and grow their entrepreneurial dreams.”

These service members will be hosted in Bryan-College Station expense free, thanks to the Reynolds & Reynolds endowment and other sponsorship. Apart from the eight days of instruction in Aggieland, they also benefit from a three-week online course and continuous support and mentorship managed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families following the initial program.

McFerrin Center spokeswoman Stephanie Burns noted that two major changes to the program this year include a lesson given on technology for business owners, and a peer mentoring segment during which veterans will be partnered up to support one another as they arrange their plans.

Burns said some participants have college degrees, while others may have had limited formal education following their military careers.

“People are so welcoming to the [participants], who enjoy the environment and the outpouring of support so much that it impacts them and they end up enrolling at Texas A&M.”

For more information on the program, visit mays.tamu.edu/mcferrin-center-for-entrepreneurship.

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