MacDill AFB expo supports service-disabled veteran business-owners.

12/07/11 Josh Holton
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Today more than 600 veterans and small businesses met at Tampa’s Convention Center, looking for ways to connect veteran business owners who have been disabled in combat with military contracts. MacDill Air Force Base organized the expo.

The Association for Service Disabled Veterans estimates that out of more than 26 million veterans, 2 million are service disabled. Eugene Toni works out of the Pentagon for the US Air Force, and said that cyber command might be an ideal venue for a service disabled vets looking for work.

Eugene Toni said that a federal initiative called Ability One employs more than 50,000 disabled people, and they are a good source for service disabled veterans seeking employment. But he said that not all jobs are best suited for service disabled vets, such as duties that require a top secret clearance.

Overall veterans’ unemployment has dropped slightly over the last year, but many soldiers who have served since 2001 are facing a 1.1% increase in unemployment from 2010 to 2011. Toni said that several IT program managers from the Veterans Administration will be looking at companies for potential contracts. Brian Book is a service disabled army veteran, and he is looking for ways to promote his IT architecture company.

One leadership consultant Eric Papp asked the panel how he could solicit his training courses to the military. Many panelists suggested that while it’s good to get on a schecule with the General Services Administration for long-term government wide contracts, it is important to do targeted marketing. Lisa Heggarty works with the University of North Florida’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which provides counseling for businesses seeking government contracts.

Tomorrow the Department of Defense’s Special Operations Command will showcase some of their latest technology and weaponry at the convention center.

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