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FastTrac Puts Veterans on Business Track

Military veterans at job fair.
Getty Images
Military veterans at job fair.

For veterans, re-entering civilian life after an enlistment means a host of challenges.

Not the least of those is finding a job. Yet veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as those who fought before them, have developed valuable skills during their time in the service that translate well to the business world.

It’s these skills that Kauffman FastTrac, an affiliate of the Kauffman Foundation, can help entrepreneurial-minded veterans hone as they work to start their own businesses.

“They come to us with stellar leadership skills, some good strategic decision-making and an ability to leverage resources,” said Michele Markey, vice president of Kauffman FastTrac. “We’re really helping them transition from the military to business, using the skills they have acquired in the military.”

The program, which started this year, offers free online and classroom courses to veterans who have an idea for a business and are looking for help in getting it started. The 30-hour classes, which normally cost $700, are being funded by a grant from consulting firm Accenture.

The curriculum is similar to business classes for civilians. They meet with small-business legal experts, and learn about financing, staffing and sales. But some content is specific to veterans, said Markey. “For instance, the government sets aside a certain amount of contracts specifically for veteran-owned businesses. They need to know these things, and to know about other programs specifically targeted to them.” In addition, FastTrac instructors are themselves former veterans.

“Through the intensive 30-hour course, they develop their business idea into something they can launch,” said Markey.

The classroom program is being offered in Kansas City, Mo.; Houston; Ft. Bragg, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; and San Diego. Online, it is accessible to anyone. Markey said Kauffman FastTrac plans to train close to 300 military personnel — from all branches of the military ranging in age from those in their 20s to 50s — in 2012.

Said Markey, “We want to connect the dots for them between military experience and the business side.”

Join CNBC’s Brian Sullivan, small business owners, and some of America’s greatest entrepreneurs as they share their stories and strategies for success. Getting Back To Business: A CNBC Town Hall Event premieres Wednesday, June 20 at 9 p.m. and will be rebroadcast at 12 a.m. ET on CNBC.

Email us at SmallBiz@cnbc.com and follow us on Twitter @SmallBizCNBC.

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