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Helping veterans succeed after service

After serving in the U.S. military, what's left for veterans to do? Some run for office, others write books, many blend into their communities as a husband or father and some start their own businesses.

For Saratoga County veterans with the entrepreneurial spirit, the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County is reaching out a helping hand with the Veteran Entrepreneurial Training Program (V.E.T.).

The Chamber wanted to find a way to help assist in all the good programs we've heard about, like Return the FAVOR, said Pete Bardunias, Chamber president and CEO. "This seemed like something we could do that would utilize our strengths of helping businesses to succeed and work with existing membership."

V.E.T. gives new veteran business owners a one-year free Chamber membership and free tuition in the Chamber's StartUp Smart program, an educational seminar series that teaches business skills needed to succeed, like writing a business plan, monitoring cash flow, preparing budgets and increased profitability.

"We're hoping to get as much publicity as possible tot let people know," said Bardunias. "Right now it's word of mouth."

Robert Hogan is the first veteran to take advantage of V.E.T. He served in the Navy during Desert Storm and now he helps people sell items on eBay with his internet sales company, Excelsior Exchange.

"A lot of times people's schedules are busy and they're unfamiliar with shipping costs or don't have the supplies to pack something up and ship it, so that's where I come in," said Hogan. "It makes it a one stop shop."

Sellers bring their items to Hogan's office at 1487 Saratoga Road, Suite 70 in Ballston Spa. There, he'll give them a rough appraisal to determine if the item is worth enough to even be put up for sale. Then he takes a photo of the item, lists it on eBay and when it's sold, ships it out and mails the original owner a check.

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