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VA New England Healthcare System


Veterans' Healthy Living, Summer 2015

VBOI Provides "Street MBA" to Entrepreneurial Veterans

Returning service members may have difficulty finding a job that is a good fit, especially if they face physical and emotional challenges. But the Veteran Business Owners Initiative (VBOI) can help Veterans achieve their ultimate dream job: running a business doing something they love!

VBOI is an organization of 75 members that assists New England Veterans with starting and running profitable businesses. During the past 10 years, VBOI has been involved with the launch of more than 150 businesses and helped its members borrow over $2 million in SBA Patriot Express loans from commercial banks.

Graphic of words on a chalkboard signifying business brainstorming

The organization’s mentors advise members in all stages of business development, including startup issues like creating a business plan and attaining loans as well as improving daily operations. But unlike sitting across from a stranger, these mentors are likeminded Veterans who have truly “been there, done that” and want to see Veterans succeed.

VBOI members participate in the Business Gymnasium, an 18-module educational course that builds small business development skills. Support groups and networking events also boost Veterans’ entrepreneurial efforts by allowing them to establish relationships with other business owners.

Jerry Pinsky, VA Facilitator, accepted the Network Director’s ICARE Award in March 2015 on behalf of the VBOI for working with Veterans to create meaningful self-employment based on their strengths, visions, skills and ambitions. Pinsky said that during the Business Gym, Veterans learn how entrepreneurs think—calling it a ‘street MBA’ of sorts—and the journey seems to relieve issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. “Entrepreneurship … is very successful at helping Veterans overcome the trauma that they had in combat,” he said.

Recently, Albert Tansey, a VBOI member, reached more than $1 million in sales after completing the Business Gym, and recently was awarded the New England Veteran Business Owner of the Year by SBA.

After being injured while serving in the Marine Corps, Michael Fitzgerald worked with VBOI and ultimately became the successful business owner of Driver’s Side Deli on the campus of Universal Technical Institute. He now serves on the Board of Directors for the VBOI.

LCDR (Ret) Dan Tereshko served 11 years in the Navy as a Special Operations Officer and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer. After leaving the service, he decided entrepreneurship was the next logical step, but he had no business experience. Dan discovered the VBOI upon doing an Internet research on franchising opportunities for Veterans and immediately saw the powerful network, support structure and culture that has cultivated so many successful Veteran-owned businesses. He recently closed on an SBA loan and opened in January 2014 in Norwood, MA. Dan serves on the Board of Directors representing the Brockton, MA VBOI group.

Colonel Andrea Gayle-Bennett (National Guard) graduated VBOI’s Business Gym and plans to open a laundromat in partnership with her husband. She recently was honored at the State Capital and was invited to President Obama’s second Inaugural ceremony.

Microsoft-certified consultant Gary Tapp (Navy) learned of the VBOI at a Small Business Administration seminar. He feels the Business Gym modules don’t "sugarcoat" information; they realistically present the challenges new businesses face. Gary serves as Chief Financial Officer for VBOI.


To learn more, visit or contact:
Jerry Pinsky, VA Facilitator, at 781-983-3728 or
Mike Fitzgerald, VBOI President, at 617-413-1956 or