Chicago Tribune

Helping veterans launch startups: 'There's a level of resilience that a lot of people in the military have, which is great for running your own business'

CHICAGO - Ask Navy veteran-turned-entrepreneur Todd Connor to describe the experience of leaving military service and his answer goes something like this: Imagine you are a successful lawyer in Seattle, and then your career ends on a Friday. By Monday you're living in San Antonio and can have any career you want, except being a lawyer. Figure it out.

Pretty disorienting, yes? About 200,000 newly minted veterans confront that reality each year, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

While leaving their personal and professional network behind can be a struggle for veterans, Connor, 41, believes the upside is that vets have a unique skill set that makes them natural entrepreneurs: discipline, leadership, expertise in team-building, making do with limited resources, an ability to solve problems on the fly and resilience, he said.

What they often lack, however, are the networks and capital to get their ideas off the ground.

"It's not a talent gap, it's not a capacity gap, but a network gap," said

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