It’s a gym like any other — dumbbells, rubber balls, treadmills and other assorted equipment — but for retired Marine L.J. Eastmead, the gym is also the culmination of a dream.
“Fitness is a passion, but really teaching people to be healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is what really resonated with me and I wanted to pass that along to other people,” she told Fox News.
But as Fox News reports, bringing that dream to reality was more difficult than she could have ever imagined. In today’s world of tangled regulations and strict barriers to entry, it can be a nightmare for anyone to start a small business. Add on the fact that Eastmead was still learning how to transition from life on the battlefield to life as a civilian, and a fuller image of the obstacles becomes clear.
That’s when Eastmead came in contact with a San Diego-based group that was moving veterans from the military force to the workforce with the help of start-up experts. The program, called the Rosie Network, is using the grit represented by that classic American folk hero Rosie the Riveter to inspire and inform veterans on how to build their own futures.
Because veterans are 45 percent more likely to start their own businesses than non-military citizens, according to the US Small Business Administration, it makes sense that the Rosie Network is focusing on small business growth as a place to jumpstart opportunity in the veterans community.
“So we’re teaching them to fish, and not just providing the fish,” Stephanie Brown, the founder and CEO of the Rosie Network, told Fox News. “This is a life-long commitment that we’re making to our transitioning veterans and our military spouses.”
In California alone, there are more than 250,000 veteran-owned businesses. Fuse Integration, an incubator run by former Navy Pilot Summer Lee, hosts just a few of theses businesses, which Lee said are a constant reminder of the value of hard work and the American spirit.
“I think that veterans provide a background in leadership, in dealing with adverse conditions and being creative under pressure that provides an excellent team capability and an excellent ability to get the job done,” Lee said.
But ultimately the burden of effort falls on the veterans themselves, people like Eastmead, who has to jump the hurdles of running her own business each and every day. It’s a job she takes seriously, a job she loves to call her own.
“The Rosie Network is not like having a staff so much as having a support system that just says ‘Oh, you can’t pick yourself up today? Well, we’ve got you,” Eastmead said.
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Evan Smith is a Staff Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter @Evansmithreport.