Transitioning military veterans into entrepreneurship

 –  Mar 21, 2018

Lockheed Martin Canada is leading the way in working with industry to sponsor programs that help Canadian military veterans transition to civilian life. The company is heading into its second year sponsoring the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur (POE), started by the Prince of Wales, to offer veterans the education, tools and resources needed to succeed as an entrepreneur – and succeed they do.

Every year, some 5,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) leave the military to begin their retirement and transition to civilian life. Some retire voluntarily while others are medically released for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other operational stress injuries. Members retire at all ages and stages of life up to age 60 and regardless of the reasons, retirement from the military can be difficult.

Once released or retired, many members choose to start their own businesses as a way to recover, stay productive and even prosper. Programs like the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur make it that much easier.

POE is a program delivered by the Prince’s Charities Canada and offers veterans the training, resources, tools and education (not financing) they need to start a business or buy a franchise.  Sponsors like Lockheed Martin help supply learning materials for the intense seven-day business boot camps held at universities and other facilities across Canada, delivered by experts who volunteer their time.

It’s exactly what Prince Charles had in mind for our veterans.

“Canadian servicemen and women give so much in support of their country,” says the Prince of Wales about the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur. “I am keen to ensure that when their duty is done they have everything they need to make a smooth transition to civilian life.”

Meet Bruno Guévremont

Royal Canadian Navy Clearance Diver Leading Seaman Bruno Guévremont was released from the CAF in 2014 after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder upon his return from Afghanistan.  Fitness helped him heal, a passion he eventually turned into a business, CrossFit Stasis, with the help of a seven-day POE Business Boot Camp, which he likens to “getting information coming at you from a firehose. The course provided me with first hand understanding of the complexity of running a business. It was eye-opening.”

Since the program began in 2012, some 300 graduates have gone on to start their own businesses across Canada in every sector.

Lockheed Martin Canada proud to sponsor

“As a retired Canadian Armed Forces member myself, I have seen first-hand the high calibre of the military personnel who have served our country with dignity and professionalism and I know they will be equally as capable and effective in their new role as entrepreneurs through the training and mentorship they will receive from the POE program,” says Charles Bouchard, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Canada. “We are very proud of the support we give so that participants can have the tools they need to be a part of this program.”

POE is competitive

The POE only accepts one in three applications in a screening process that is very competitive. Mind you, a little competitiveness never hurt anyone – especially a soldier-turned-entrepreneur.

“Canadian Armed Forces personnel make terrific entrepreneurs because they’re focused, mission-oriented, motivated and have tremendous leadership skills,” says Janet McCausland, Director of POE. “We find the veterans who enrol in our program and take advantage of the resources and expertise we offer, are already so motivated to learn that the conditions for their success are already there, particularly when it comes to buying franchises we find. Because of their training and experience, they exceptional capabilities when it comes to analyzing the business plans, integrating the information and determining what it will take to execute the franchise plan, or not in some cases.”

Fast Facts about POE since 2012:

  1. POE has held 15, 7-day Business Boot Camps (funded by sponsors like Lockheed Martin)
  2. 300 Participants have graduated from these 7-Day Business Boot Camps
  3. POE has held 53, 1-Day Workshops for almost 2,000 Attendees
  4. 43% of POE alumni have located their businesses where unemployment is high
  5. Four universities deliver the intensive week-long business program for transitioning military. Faculty, students and the local business community all volunteer their time to POE

“We are very proud of our accomplishments to date and extremely grateful for the support of sponsors like Lockheed Martin Canada without whom our program would not be possible,” says McCausland.  

Quotes from participants

  • “Dear Sponsor, You have no idea what you’ve done. You gave veterans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You brought us together in a familiar yet new way, creating lifelong memories especially for those of us leaving the CAF. In short, you enabled a group of good, hardworking people who will go forth into the world and support other vets and the larger community. THIS IS YOUR LEGACY.”
  • “Thank you for accepting my application to POE boot camp 2017. This week was so helpful to move forward in my business and reconnected me to my military family.”
  • “Thank you for giving me my confidence back!”
  • “Thank you for the most impactful week in my short entrepreneurial career. I left the week-long boot camp with a list of practical action items and increased confidence. Your support is incredible”
  • “To sit with fellow service members and learn how we can transition together is an incredible experience.”
  • “It was a great course for participants with PTSD. Specifically, networking is a big thing, seeing we are not alone.”

If you would like to support military veteran entrepreneurs, visit www.buyveteran.ca.

If you know a veteran who could benefit from the POE training courses, the list of upcoming workshops, which begin March 28th and 29th in Ottawa, can be found here .