Ex-soldiers take on a boot camp for their brains

4:51 PM, Jun 21, 2012   |    comments
Tammy Foster-Knight hopes FSU's boot camp for veterans helps her boost her business Z'Spot Salon and Day Spa in Brandon.
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Tallahassee, Florida -- Boot Camp never looked like this in the military.

A group of disabled military veterans is participating in a business-related boot camp at Florida State that aims to help change their lives.

It's every bit as challenging as the military boot camps they endured as young soldiers, but this time it's an intellectual challenge.

The "Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities" welcomes veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They are going through an intensive week of classes on finance, marketing, networking and more. It's designed to help them start a business or take their current business to the next level.

Mark Cosby spent 15 years in the U.S. Navy specializing on surgical technology. Now he operates a green business called "3 Dimensions Recycling" in Tampa.

Cosby hopes the boot camp gives him the tools to help raise awareness of recycling, especially among children.

"This has just been the most amazing experience I've had in my life. I'm so grateful and thankful to have been selected to attend this course and I plan to stay connected with all the people here, including my classmates, definitely the faculty and people that have been instrumental in disseminating information that's been relevant for us to get our businesses started and to help sustain our businesses."

Tammy Foster-Knight served nearly 24 years in the Air Force before retiring last year. She now runs a skin care business and day spa in Brandon that specializes in working with cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments.

Foster-Knight has high hopes for the boot camp and plans to use the knowledge here on behalf of her Z'Spot Salon and Day Spa.

"I'm like a sponge. I'm here to learn. There's a lot about marketing. There's a lot about bookkeeping and financing that I'm hoping to gain that knowledge and the networking opportunities here are endless."

Foster-Knight sees the boot camp as a way to help lay a foundation for greater business success in the future with its resources and contacts.

"There's a lot of synergy going on and we're all vibing off one another, if you will, everyone is totally unselfish. Everyone is freely giving up information. We're sharing ideas and we're supporting one another. This is probably one of the best teams I've worked with in a long time."

The boot camp includes veterans from eight states. After the program ends next week, they will get another 12 months of support for their businesses.

FSU is one of eight schools in the country to offer the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.

Dave Heller

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