December 23, 2014

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
The University of Florida’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Program is just around the corner and we need your help to make it even better than last year.

We have increased the number of disabled veterans we can support to 40 this year and still have a few spots left. These veterans will learn from the leaders in the field of entrepreneurship education, the skills necessary to start ventures or grow their existing small businesses, completely free of charge. VEP is a 1 year long, intensive program culminating in an 8 day boot camp here at the University of Florida, which gives those men and women who have given so much for their country, the tools and skills to create their own path.

Would you please forward my contact information and the attached introduction letter and brochure to anyone in your network who could lend a hand in helping us find highly motivated veterans, or to individuals who are disabled vets that might refer to the program? Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have.

If you would like brochures to give out to your veterans, I would be happy to send you a supply.

Thank you in advance for your help,
Danny Makowsky
VEP Program Assistant
University of Florida
Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Dear Danny
I’m happy to help get the word out regarding your unique program.


Shaft Notes
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the appointment of five new members to the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. The committee was chartered on November 2, 1994, and advises the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the needs of the nation’s 4.7 million minority Veterans with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach and other benefits and programs administered by the VA.   The Committee assesses the needs of Veterans who are minority group members and recommends program improvements designed to meet their needs. The committee members are appointed to two or three-year terms. Minority Veterans comprise nearly 21 percent of the total Veteran population in the United States and its territories.

The new committee members are:

  • Patricia Jackson-Kelley: Lt. Col. (US Army-Ret) of Los Angeles, California; Served as one of the first full time Women Veteran Program Coordinators at the Los Angeles VAMC.  Currently serves as a member of the LA County Veterans Advisory Council; Board Member of Military Women in Need Organization and LA County Council Commander of the American Legion.
  • Librado Rivas: Command Sgt. Maj. (USA-Ret) of Manassas, Virginia; State Commander of the DC Chapter, American GI Forum of the United States; National Liaison Officer in Washington, DC,  for the National Office of the American GI Forum, and Director of the Army Lean Six Sigma.
  • Rebecca Stone: Staff Sgt. (USA-Ret) of Columbia, Maryland; served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was medically retired under the Wounded Warrior Program through Warrior Transition Units.  She is a certified suicide negotiator/first responder.  She was also the recipient of the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) Women of Excellence Award.
  • Cornell Wilson, Jr.:  Maj. Gen. (USMC-Ret) of Charlotte, North Carolina; currently serves as Military Advisor to the Governor of North Carolina, where he also advises state agencies and Veteran’s organizations on the needs of Veterans.
  • Anthony Woods: Army Veteran of University Park, Maryland; currently serves as the Senior Manager at Cisco System’s Consulting Services and consults with the Department of Defense and the Army on IT transformations. Mr. Woods also volunteers with organizations such as Got Your 6 and Hiring Our Heroes.

Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) released the following statement on H.R. 83, legislation to fund the government for FY15:

“Earlier this Congress, the House of Representatives passed seven different appropriations bills to fund different portions of the government. Unfortunately, the Harry Reid-led Senate, in typical fashion, refused to consider any appropriations bills. Because of the Senate’s irresponsible refusal to act in good faith, the House was once again, and hopefully for the last time, forced to consider an unwieldy 1600-plus page omnibus bill in a few short days. This is not how government should be funded – ever.

There are many provisions of this bill that are difficult to swallow, but given the current status of our divided government, the House fought mightily to preserve conservative principles. Our battle to limit the scope of government, while keeping spending within discretionary spending cap limits that have lowered the deficit four years in a row, provided some notable high points in the otherwise disappointing bill,” Bilirakis said.

“For instance, this spending bill will ensure Veterans will still have access to the care they have earned and deserve.  The VA will enjoy an increase of $1.8 billion, including $209 million for implementation of the recent VA reforms passed by Congress, $40 million of which will be used to reduce the claims backlog. It is vital Veterans receive timely access to quality care. This bill also makes sure that, by providing an increase in military salaries, the brave Americans who are willing to make any sacrifice in the defense of our liberties get every penny they deserve. Our troops and their families must never be pawns in partisan posturing. The spending bill also protects our seniors by providing $1.4 billion to fight fraud in Social Security and $672 million to combat fraud in Medicare, preserving these much-needed programs for current seniors and future beneficiaries. Additionally, H.R. 83 protects taxpayers from bailing out insurance companies through the risk corridor program in the President’s disastrous health care law,” Bilirakis continued.


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