Veterans business program helps veterans launch their careers after separation

Chicago (WLS) — Lynn Louder loves talking to customers, especially veterans, and there are many of them at Rosie’s Home Cookin’.

The restaurant is decorated for Veterans Day on Fridays, but it’s not too different from other days. There’s even a missing persons table dedicated to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The restaurant is the business model for Veterans Louder and his partner coaches as part of their non-profit Veterans Business Program. It is dedicated to helping veterans start their own businesses after retirement.

“These veterans are vulnerable. We want to reach out to them, show them a way, show them a way that can create a future for them and their families,” Lauder said.

The Veterans Business Program has helped nearly 500 veteran-owned businesses get off the ground. Or in the water; the owners of Chicago Fireboat Tours are several Navy veterans who purchased a 1936 model fireboat and put it into service as a tour.

“When we first saw the boat for sale, it was just a dream. When we started talking to them, they made that dream a reality,” said Renovac of Chicago Fire Boat Tours.

Captain Nowak worked in the engine room of a Navy ship, but when he retired, he said, like many veterans, he needed help figuring out what to do next. The Veterans Business Project helped him come up with financing and business plans.

“They helped us develop a business plan and make our name shine. We need moral support,” Novak said.

Louder was a Marine who served in Vietnam. Now, he sees himself as a matchmaker. V-Harmony helps veterans connect with businesses for sale, opening doors that many veterans never knew existed.

“Many of these veterans are captains of their own rowing boats, rather than trying to fit into the engine room of a big boat, in other words, a corporate environment,” he said.

Chicago Fireboat Tours are doing well and they are adding to their fleet. They have purchased a former Navy training ship and plan to commission it in the spring.

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