Nov. 11, 2021

Are Tiny Homes Solving a Big Problem for Veterans?

Plus: Veteran-owned businesses—beyond Black Rifle Coffee

It’s Veterans Day, so Scott and Nora take a look at a growing non-profit called Veterans Community Project which builds state-of-the-art tiny home communities for veterans. Chris Haxel, a senior producer for the investigative podcast Verified who previously covered military and veterans issues for KCUR in Kansas City, talks about his reporting. Plus, we’ll find out what it really takes to run a veteran-owned business, and hear from two experts with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, Rosalinda V. Maury, Director of Applied Research and Analytics and Misty Stutsman Fox, Director of the Entrepreneurship and Small Business portfolio. 


Nora Ali: It's Veterans Day. So today we thought we'd recognize our veterans with two stories. One on a nonprofit tackling veteran homelessness and another on veteran entrepreneurship. We'll hear from, Chris Haxel, a senior producer with Verified, an investigative podcast from Scripps. Chris previously reported on military and veterans issues for KCUR in Kansas city. We talked to him about a growing nonprofit called Veterans Community Project, that builds state-of-the-art tiny home communities for veterans. And later on, we'll find out what it really takes to run a veteran owned business. As we talk to two experts from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. From Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, the podcast that gives you a front row seat to candid conversations with some of the biggest names in business, asking them the questions you wish you could ask. I'm your host, Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm your other host, Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears. Bringing you stories about business shapes our lives today and into the future. Now, vets get down to business. Nora, it is veterans? Veterans. I don't know.

Nora Ali: I go back and forth.

Scott Rogowsky: I don't know the correct... Maybe it's one of those tomato, tomatoes. Do you come from a military family? Do you have a veteran's background in the Ali clan?

Nora Ali: Yeah. So I don't have any domestic war vets, but both my parents' families were in the thick of it in the Bangladesh Liberation War in the '70s. So my uncle went on to become the chief cadet that supported the chief army commander for Bangladesh. But, Scott, the part of this story that blew my mind was that my uncle was given one of the five or six original handmade flags for the newly independent nation for Bangladesh, which he had to hide in his family home. My father was the only other person who knew and west Pakistani military came to their house and questioned my grandfather. So if they had gone and searched the house, my father's entire family would've been killed, but it's really incredible. And my family was really pivotal in shaping the country of Bangladesh.

Scott Rogowsky: Your uncle had one of the original flags. Where's that flag today?

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh. That's a good question. I don't think they have it anymore.

Scott Rogowsky: That's got to be very valuable.

Nora Ali: It's got to be very valuable, yes. What about you? What's your family history with the military and veterans?

Scott Rogowsky: Well, my dad's side comes from a long line of medical deferments. Grandpa Herb avoided deployment because of his rheumatic fever. My dad was drafted into Vietnam, but he got bounced for colorblindness and allergies. We Rogowskys are a feeble sort, Nora.

Nora Ali: Okay.

Scott Rogowsky: But my mom's side are a harder bunch. My grandpa, Poppy Sid, was a first generation Jewish American who proudly served in world war II. He was captured in France, was missing in action, spent nearly a year in a German POW camp, came home with a bullet in his shoulder. They didn't operate on him there. He came home with a bullet in him, received a purple heart, which I've seen and we cherish to this day. So many cousins of that generation on my mom's side. The Rogowskys, not so much. I feel like if I were drafted into a war, I would probably die of chapped lip out there, Nora.

Nora Ali: Oh, Scott. I'm curious what this medical deferment for allergies was. Allergies to what?

Scott Rogowsky: The situation that my dad said was imagine if you're in a foxhole somewhere and you start sneezing, you're going to give away your position and the color blindness now is a key thing, because I guess if you're in a fighter plane or something, you're going to press the red button or the green button, you got to know which button to press. You could be ejecting yourself versus dropping a bomb or something. So this is Veterans Day and we are very thankful to our veterans who have served and veterans affairs are important me because of my family's connection. And it's frankly deplorable how poorly our government treats our veterans once they return home if they're lucky enough to return home at all, which is something we get into with our guests today.

Nora Ali: Let's get to that conversation today starting with Chris Haxel.

Scott Rogowsky: Hello Chris and firstly, thank you for not only your reportage on the issues facing today's veterans, which we're going to dive into, but also for your service as a veteran yourself. Where and when did you serve?

Chris Haxel: Yeah, I served in the US Army on active duty from 2006 to 2010. I was stationed at Fort Bragg and I spent a couple trips overseas, but I mostly was working in Europe and west Africa. So despite working at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, uncle Sam never told me to go there. He told me to go to Africa and he told me to go to Europe. So I did what I was told.

Scott Rogowsky: And you're using those experiences to inform your work today. Before we get into the current issues facing today's vets, let's try to put this conversation into context. I thought it'd be nice to just provide a little history here, and call it how it is really, which is that the United States has been consistently screwing its veterans since the very beginning, since the very first war of independence. Is that accurate to say?

Chris Haxel: Yeah. I think every soldier, every person who served in the military has in some way been screwed by their government throughout time and throughout history. Anybody who volunteers to go to war to go fight for their country is signing a deal with their government. And it's a deal that is inherently flawed because the government can't possibly give back what it's asking of people, which is to put their life on the line for their country. It's hey, we want you to change who you are as a person and become this thing that no human really is born with the mindset of like, oh, I'm willing to lay down my life for these people who I didn't know three months ago. And that's not a very natural thing.

And I think the least governments can do is to hold up their end of the bargain and to fulfill the promises they make. Death and war is inevitable, tragedy is inevitable, that's just what it is, but for the people who do come back alive and for their families and for the people who do experience war and do suffer as a result of their service, I think the least our governments can do is take care of folks.

Scott Rogowsky: You've also done reporting on how the stigma of PTSD affects veterans, even those who don't have PTSD and you even reported a story this fall that said a survey commission by Cohen Veterans Network, which found most Americans greatly overestimate how many veterans have PTSD?

Chris Haxel: Right?

Scott Rogowsky: Two thirds of respondents believe is more than half, but according to experts, the real number is fewer than one in five.

Chris Haxel: And I should be clear that even people associated with the military in this survey overestimated the prevalence of PTSD among veterans. So this isn't just about the civil military divide. This is really about our society as a whole. And I think it's a lack of understanding around issues related to mental health. I think it is a lack of understanding about PTSD in particular. It's like a lot of other disorders, a lot of other illnesses, and that it's a continuum. If you have PTSD, you're not necessarily the most extreme case and PTSD is treatable. So yeah, if you have someone with untreated PTSD and they are on the far end of that spectrum to where they may be more likely to blow their top and commit acts of violence and that sort of thing, that person is the one who's going to just be more present in the media versus if you have someone who has highly treatable PTSD, they understand the symptoms, they go and they get help and they live their life very normally.

And this is something that I've been mindful of in my reporting, which is like, it's difficult to thread that needle, because if you talk about it too much and you report on it too much, then you worry that you're just getting people to associate veterans with PTSD, which is the exact opposite of what you want to do. And so it's like, you want to talk about it as much as you need to, but only that much.

Scott Rogowsky: What are the real world consequences of that assumption?

Chris Haxel: Well, imagine you are an employer and you are interviewing candidates and you have two candidates who are exactly the same, except one of them served in the military. And in the back of your mind, you may be wondering, does this person have post traumatic stress disorder? And if so, should I choose this person or should I choose the other candidate who doesn't have that military experience? And that's the sort of thing I think that happens consciously, but mostly it happens unconsciously. That hurts people's job prospects, it hurts their life prospects, whether it's friendships or relationships. Almost any interaction you have, if somebody feels like you are thrown to be mentally unstable, that's going to make it hard for you to have a successful life in just about any facet.

Scott Rogowsky: It's stigmatizing.

Chris Haxel: Yeah.

Nora Ali: All right. Let's take a quick break so that when we come back, we can talk more about some solutions here, specifically about a nonprofit that's addressing veteran homelessness by replacing the traditional shelter model with tiny homes. We'll be right back.

[Ad Break]

Scott Rogowsky: And we are back with Chris Haxel. So, Chris, affordable housing and homelessness is a problem in cities across the country, as we all know, but we also know from a study by the nonprofit, Green Doors', that veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless than other Americans. In addition to all the issues we've already discussed, why do you think veterans are more at risk for homelessness?

Chris Haxel: Mental health is more likely to be an issue, there's the societal stigma that we've talked about. I also think, depending on how long you've served, the longer you serve in the military, the more of an impact this has, but it changes who you are and it makes you feel like you're separate from the rest of society. You're living on a military base perhaps, you're surrounded by people who wear a uniform, you feel cut off from the civilian world. And so if you spend 20 years in the military and then you get out, it's hard to integrate back into the civilian world even after... I was in for four years and it still felt like I was in an alien world for a little while. And so just, all of those factors, combine to just make it pretty tough for some people when they get out of the military.

Nora Ali: To address the housing issue specifically, there's this entity called the Veterans Community Project. What is the story behind the VCP and the tiny homes specifically that they're providing?

Chris Haxel: Right. So it got started in Kansas city, Missouri, which like many places across the country has a whole homelessness problem. And there were a few guys who five or six years ago basically said, "Hey, we want to try to help veterans specifically. How should we do this?" And one of them just had the idea of Hey, these tiny homes are popping up and this seems like it could be a good idea because a lot of the veterans we talked to, the shelters aren't really working out for them and they just go in and out of the shelters. They don't have a great relationship with the government, especially if they were like dishonorably discharged, if they got out of the military on bad papers is what it's called, a bad paper discharge, and they just don't want to deal with society, they don't want to deal with other people, they don't want to deal with the government, but like they still need help.

And so basically, this is you been like 240 square feet. And so it's a little village literally, Veterans Community Project, it's a tiny home village of homes where every person, when you move in, you have your own space, you don't have to share it with anybody. If you have a dog, you can bring your dog. If you have a family, they have some larger units for people with families, which is very different from traditional shelters. You can't bring any pets in, most of them are separated by gender. And so it's a place where they feel safe. These places are designed specifically with... And again, not every homeless veteran suffers from PTSD, but for those who do, these are designed so that there's only one entrance and one exit, the windows are only on two sides. And so if they are sleeping in their bed, they can sit with their back to the wall, back to the corner, facing the windows. So they don't have that sense of insecurity or that fear of somebody going to come sneak up me or whatever, that sort of thing.

The other thing they feel is a sense of ownership, because what the Veterans Community Project does is every time there's turnover, if somebody leaves because they get back on their feet and they're bringing in a new resident to fill this tiny home, they refill everything. The kitchen is restocked with new silverware and plates and dishes, the bed is replaced, there's new linens, there's new towels, it's everything. And then as soon as that veteran walks in the door, all that stuff belongs to them. It's not stuff that was used by someone else, it wasn't recycled, and they know that they're going to get to keep it. Not just as long as they stay there, but even when they leave, they can take it with them. And talking to the folks at the village, both the residents and people who live there, that's a huge factor in its success. It is the simple fact that even though it's not directly stated, it's just more humanizing if you are walking into a place that is your own and possessions, that are your own. And I think that's a big part of why they've had some success there.

Scott Rogowsky: That's terrific. What does it costs to build these tiny homes, to furnish them? And where's the funding for these projects coming from?

Chris Haxel: So it's funded through donations, private donations from individuals and from companies. They don't work specifically with the government. They don't have government funding because they said... Basically what they told me is if you work on government funding, there's all this red tape you have to go through. And they basically just wanted to rely on the support of the community. They have a huge staff of volunteers who will go and build these houses, who will go and reset these homes when they need to be turned around for a new resident and that sort of thing. As far as costs, it's hard to break it down because there's so much volunteer times.

Scott Rogowsky: Are there plans to expand outside of the Midwest and to cities and is hard to pull this off in a city where land values are a lot more expensive and scarcer to come by?

Chris Haxel: So basically, the stance that Veterans Community Project has taken is, we will work with anyone and we will help anyone who wants to put this together, but we're not going to come into your city and pretend that we know everything about your local community. And so they already have broken ground on a very similar project on the other side of Missouri and St. Louis. And so they've got projects in South Dakota, they've got projects in Colorado. I think their plan is to have locations in eight different cities by the end of 2022.

Chris Haxel: One thing that I think we're starting to see a little bit of is, hey, these tiny houses are working great for these veterans. There aren't that many differences between veteran homeless population and the rest of the homeless population. So we're starting to see places that are building villages that aren't specifically for homeless veterans, that are just homeless people in general, because so many of the same benefits still apply. Everybody likes to have their own space. Everybody likes to have their dog with them and to feel the safety of their own bed and have four walls around them at night.

Scott Rogowsky: The money is there, the money is in the budget, it's just not being allocated properly. Now, we're going to take another quick break. And when we come back, we're going to talk about veteran owned businesses, VOBs, with Rosalinda Vasquez Maury, and Misty Stutsman Fox. Chris, thanks for sharing or reporting with us today.

Nora Ali: Thanks Chris.

Chris Haxel: Thank you. This is great.

[Ad Break]

Nora Ali: Rosalinda and Misty, welcome to the show. A lot to get to, you both were with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. And I understand it focuses on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families, which is a lot of facets. So to start, Rosalinda, what is the IVMF's approach to assisting veterans because you are tackling so many different sides of it?

Rosalinda Maury: Yeah, absolutely. So the IVMF, we're a standalone Institute situated in higher education and we do research and this is my side, trying to understand the needs, the challenges of veteran transitioning, service members, military spouses. But not only do we do the research, we actually do the programming to support. And I'll let Misty talk of about some other programs and services that we have here at the IVMF.

Misty Stutsman Fox: Definitely. So as Rosie just said, we take that research and that decision level data, and then we apply it directly to programs. And we've served 160,000 individuals, making sure that veterans get to the right resource in the least amount of time in cities across the nation. We have an entrepreneurship and small business portfolio that has national and international programs that meet vetrepreneurs and military connected entrepreneurs where they're at on their journey, meaning ideation, startup, growth, and beyond. And then we also have an amazing onward opportunity team that does job, career readiness and placement, where they have over 50 in demand career credentials. So think your P&P and all those IT credentials that folks want, they can get for free through our programs.

Nora Ali: And, Misty, we've seen such an explosion for the desire amongst entrepreneurs, especially Gen Z and younger folks wanting to defer the traditional career path and start their own thing. Would you say that's a common sentiment now among veterans as well as they want to get into the world of entrepreneurs more than ever?

Misty Stutsman Fox: Yeah. I think what you're seeing is military entrepreneurs, I'm assuming it as a third shift, so they come in, they have their military service and usually go after some sort of education or maybe some other career path for a second and then turned entrepreneurship. There's a lot of things that the military teaches you that translates very well in entrepreneurship.

Rosalinda Maury: I think to add to that really quickly, is that we're starting to see this like up in hybrid entrepreneurs. You have people that are separating really interested in being your own boss, but at the same time you have bills to pay, you have a family to feed. So you want that job, but you want to start your own business. And I think that when the opportunity presents itself, they may make that shift or not.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. It would seem to be that veterans could make some of the most successful entrepreneurs because they often possess the traits that are crucial to running a successful business, including tenacity, self-discipline, focus. And it's funny how many terminologies and metaphors from the battlefield make their way into like the startup world. They say, you're in the trenches starting out. And I've been at startups where they say, we're at war with some other competitor. We're in active combat situations here.

Nora Ali: You have an actual war room.

Scott Rogowsky: War rooms.

Misty Stutsman Fox: That's what I was about to say. What do you do when you have to solve? You go to the war room.

Scott Rogowsky: You said you've worked with 160,000 veterans. Is that...

Misty Stutsman Fox: We've served 160,000.

Scott Rogowsky: These are, I assume, men and women mostly equal balances, or what are the demographics? The ages.

Misty Stutsman Fox: Yeah. So if you look at it through our entrepreneurship programs, let's take that one for example, we serve mostly post 911, there's a program for anyone. So if you are pre 911 or your guard, or your reservist, or your spouse, we have a program for that. But if you look at our average person, it's a 44 year old E4 with a grad degree, that's coming through our programs.

Nora Ali: I want to learn more about what it's actually like being an entrepreneur as a veteran. One of the surveys is the National Survey of Military Affiliated Entrepreneurs. And some of the stats are maybe a little discouraging, but I'd love for you to help me put into context relative to the average. For example, two of the top barriers to entrepreneurship are 66% of the respondents reported difficulty with applying for grants from non-profit organizations. And then 53% of respondents reported difficulty with even identifying sources of funding to start their business. So is this worse than the average entrepreneur or what are these barriers that veterans are facing when they are trying to find capital?

Misty Stutsman Fox: I'm going to let Rosie put a lot of the color in that, but here it's the one thing I will say that capital readiness is a plague across entrepreneurship, period. And so a lot of times folks will sit there and say, it's access to capital. I can't find the capital that I need when in reality, something that you can look at in a nuance is, if a veteran entrepreneur goes and applies for credit or applies at the bank and they're denied, they are less likely than their civilian counterparts to go back. And so us as organizations saying, this is when you access, what type of capital and when, right? So if it's a bank or if it's a grant, or if it's a pitch competition, having that knowledge to say, this is when you access it when and helping folks walk through that is so much more important in the military community, because if there is a mess up and a denial, which quite frankly, a lot of small businesses get denied from the bank, then there's a recovery on the back end that we haven't figured out as a military connected community.

So I do think that it's that readiness portion. If you think about just what it means to be a military connected family, it means that you've moved a lot. It means that you haven't been at the same address in five years. It means that you haven't had the time to build up maybe a credit or a longstanding, a mortgage or something like that. And so if you take all those things, they naturally create barriers to then bank loans or anything else. And I'll pass it over to Rosie to add a little bit to that.

Rosalinda Maury: I think back to Misty's point that this concept of lack of capital or access to capital isn't any different for veteran entrepreneurs compared to non-veteran entrepreneurs. And it is very common. And I think the stats that you've cited is like, what were the difficult aspects of capital? And in particular grant was called out, because I think that the space generally says, oh yes, you should be seeking grant opportunities. You need to be going to grants. And it's actually really difficult to get grants. I'm not saying grants are not your way to do it, but it's not for everybody. You have to be absolutely ready. There's a lot of paperwork. And sometimes there is a lot of effort for little reward. Now, the return is, guess what, you don't have to pay it back. It's, I don't want to say free money because your time is not free, but again, not an easy thing. I think that's why it was cited as the top.

Scott Rogowsky: Funding is probably the number one issue facing entrepreneurs. I've experienced this issue, myself, trying to get business off the ground. Even with a very well connected angel investor, we still ran out of money in the end and couldn't get to that MVP even. I've read the surveys and done some research on this, and it seems like there's the grants and the banks, but not a lot of discussion about VCs. Is the VC community looking to veterans to invest? I did find one website that listed five VCs who specialize in veteran founded businesses. There was one based in Virginia, one in Knoxville, Tennessee, one in Fort Mill, South Carolina, these aren't exactly VC hotbeds. Why aren't more of the Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Silicon Beach firms, looking to the veteran entrepreneurs.

Misty Stutsman Fox: This is something that we can talk up and down all day. So we have a partnership with Inc where we basically highlight and celebrate the 100 fastest growing veteran known businesses in the nation. Most of them are no VC able companies and now they've grown. So if you look at their typical growth rates in the top 10, you're looking at about 8000% a year, year over year for at least the right years. That's insanity to keep up that sort of growth. And then, you are literally flying a plane while building it, but quite frankly, you jumped off the cliff with a little more than a hope and a dream. So a lot of veterans are starting non employer firms, mostly lifestyle hybrid type companies. And that's not to say all, there's quite a few very large veteran-owned businesses. You have to remember the GoDaddies, Walmart, those are all veteran-owned.

So the thing is though, is that a lot of them are starting more hybrid zero employer firms. So it's just not something out the VC world has caught up with. I think the last thing to point out is you have your three forms of capital, so actual money capital, and then you have human capital, so people that are working for you, and social capital, people that you know. And veterans lack this third capital. So veterans don't use military connection as an alumni circle. They absolutely should. But that social capital, your points earlier saying you knew someone in VC, most veterans don't. And so that's the whole idea where it's, how do we start to expand? And really, and I think that's another goal behind the NMSAA is to say, how do we really drive connectivity in the ecosystem? So it doesn't matter that you don't know of venture capitalist, but you can get to someone that does. And that's the whole point behind here, because I think there's a lot left on the table because of that limited social capital.

Rosalinda Maury: Yeah. And I really want to emphasize that last point in particular, the military lifestyle has ultimately, I don't want to say disadvantage, but hasn't really given that opportunity to connect with people in the local, in the region where you would already have these connections. So if you're moving every two and a half years, you may be moving even out of the country and so forth and so on. And people to some degree, they don't have the entrepreneur connections that you may have already had, say if you've been in a community for 10 years in particular.

Nora Ali: How do you go about broadening those networks and connections then, so veterans feel like they have the same network as their non-veteran counterparts?

Rosalinda Maury: Yeah. So, I think this is where programs really comes into play. I think for the most part, it is about connecting solid within the military community, because there is a sea of good will, and you have any people wanting to connect doing businesses with veteran entrepreneurs. So there is definitely a lot of connection, but in particular, it's not just about getting those connections on a national level and understanding what that is, but it is also partnering with the local universities, the incubators, and so forth and so on to gain those connections. And I'll let Misty probably add some more color to that, because this is part of what she does as well.

Misty Stutsman Fox: If the military or veteran community at large use the other military and veteran community, like the alumni circle that an academy grad would do, then the world would be right at the opportunity. There are so many folks to Rosie's point that the sea goodwill is there, but also just the other connectivity of that shared experience is there. And I think that often a lot of military connected individuals, we boot around for two to three years, haven't been in the same industry or the same geography or the same anything for more than five years. Well, meanwhile, if you look at my career, I've been working with small businesses for over a decade. So I know a ton of people in the small business world. So leveraging a, that community as an alumni community, absolutely needs to happen. But b, going to events. And this means like actually going to programs with people that are at your same levels.

I think that all the time we run over 200 workshops a year. And I can sit there and talk at length about our pedagogy and our curriculum and how we put things together. But quite frankly, it's who we put together. It's who's in the room, it's those 30 other people are going through the cohort, it's those battle buddies that then become lifelong friends that quite frankly, they sharpen each other. So we have several success stories of graduates that have met, partnered, and won gigantic life changing revenue contracts. We have one company in particular that was someone that they met at EBV. And the next thing you know, they're looking at $48 million in contracts over the past three years. That's a $5 million company on up to a $48 million company in three years is nothing to scoff at.

So I think that, that's a whole idea. You're now just one degree away from those excellent speakers and those keynotes and those folks. We just had chef Robert Irvine at our last conference who connected with one of our VOBs and they're getting lunch when he's up at the Pentagon, some time this month. That doesn't happen on the normal streets of wherever, Syracuse, New York. So I think that it's all something to put out there.

Scott Rogowsky: Can you share more about this specific project? And we should clarify that we're talking about a collective of veteran owned businesses that partner together to bid on and win these contracts, right?

Misty Stutsman Fox: So people think like I need to go start the next, I don't even know some sort of crazy it blockchain, crypto currency, nothing. You don't. These are guys who are literally, when they went through, one of them went through a program in 2010 and he slept in the back of his landscaping trailer because he underbid his first contract and didn't have enough money for the hotel.

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh.

Misty Stutsman Fox: And now, he's graduated to the point where we just built this beautiful national veteran resource center of which Rosie and I are sitting in right now. And on top of the roof, we have a parade ground. And he built that parade ground. But then he partnered with another guy who owns a construction company in Rochester. It's not super fancy stuff.

Rosalinda Maury: The only thing I want to add to it is that there's a huge diversity. You have your socks, you have your coffee, you have your retail and stores, you have jewelry line, but you also have like intel, security businesses, the landscaping that we talked, I couldn't miss that, but there's a huge array, diversity of businesses that are being started by veterans. I think what is common and just to Misty's point is that veterans are most socially engaged. So for the most part, they will have businesses, but then turn around and donate it or do something like that, or they'll start non-for-profits and so forth. They could be helping veterans, but they can also be helping youth. I have talked to many veterans that started youth businesses because ultimately what they want to do is help young individuals grow and teach leadership skills and so forth and so on.

Nora Ali: Even beyond entrepreneurship, Rosie, I know part of your research focuses on employer perspectives on things like retention and also workplace performance. What are some examples for how employers are trying to not just get vets in the workplace or not just investors trying to fund vets, but also how are they working to retain them and ensure that they do find success in their business or at work?

Rosalinda Maury: 10 years ago, veteran unemployment was super high. And certainly, I think that private sector really stepped it up. They started a coalition of hiring veterans. I think they started with what they thought was a high goal of 100,000, but it was like, woo.

Misty Stutsman Fox: It's 100,000 jobs. They called it the 100,000 Job Missions. And now they just call it the Veterans Job Mission, because they're at 700,000 hire.

Rosalinda Maury: They surpassed that. But certainly initially, I think everybody was focused on the hiring, where now you're seeing employers really focusing on the development and the retention in particular. Don't hire a veteran because it's a good thing to do. I think we talked about the skills initially, the resiliency, the adaptation, the leadership, but there are many skills that were enhanced by the military that I think employers really do take advantage of and really know about. They want to provide veterans with opportunities to use their skills and abilities. So they give them jobs, tasks, responsibilities that ultimately utilize that.

Nora Ali: Right. Well, Rosie and Misty, we love the research you've done, the work that you're are doing, the programs that you've started. So we'll wrap it up there. Rosie and Misty, thanks so much for your time today.

Rosalinda Maury: Thank you so much.

Misty Stutsman Fox: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Scott Rogowsky: And now BC listeners, we want to hear from you. Are there any veteran owned businesses, VOBs that you want to shout out? I'll shout out Sperry Topsiders, shout out Navy Vet Paul Sperry, who invented my shoes that I like to wear. Maybe you yourself are a veteran and it's your own company. That's okay too. We will shamelessly promote your business if you send us an email at or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod, that's B-I-Z casualpod with your thoughts.

Nora Ali: You can also leave us a voice memo on our website,, or give us a ring and leave us an old fashioned voicemail. Our number is 862-295-1135. As Business Casual grows, we are excited to get to know our listeners, old and new. Drop us a line, and don't forget to leave your name and where you're calling or writing from, so we can hear from you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins, additional production sound design and mixing by Daniel Marcus. Alan Haburchak is director of audio of Morning Brew. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia, and Jessica Cohen is our chief content officer. Music in this episode from Daniel Marcus in the mysterious Breakmaster cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or wherever you go for ear candy. And we'd love it if you would give us a great rating and a review.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it casual.