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Florida program helps veterans go from the battlefield to the business world

Posted at 3:34 AM, Jul 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-03 18:26:41-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Appreciating veterans this Independence Day can go much deeper than a simple thank you.

"I think Americans have a heart for veterans, they just don’t know what to say or do, I just want to add the do part into this," said Scott Neil during an interview at American Freedom Distillery in St. Petersburg.

Scott Neil is a “doer.” He was a member of the U.S. Special Forces and one of the first troops on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11. That story became the focal point of the movie "12 Strong" which was released earlier this year.

Neil’s newest mission is at the American Free Distillery which he co-founded and is constructing. The distillery has some very patriotic touches.

"When you leave the military service you have a tremendous amount of skills but you don’t know what that means to the business world," said Neil.

After left the military, Neil found an entrepreneurship program offered by Veterans Florida that cost him nothing.

"I could go and take classes online so I didn’t have to stop working what I was doing at the time and every weekend I could go and finish off that course," said Neil.

At the end, he realized he needed to transition his mind and understand a new business language.

"Profit and loss, spreadsheets, capital raising, all of these things I didn’t understand as a service member," said Neil.

He now understands how to be a successful business owner.

"What we didn’t have was just a cultural understanding of business," said Neil. "That’s what the Florida Veterans gave us."

They can give you the understanding to run your business, too, right here in the Tampa Bay area.

To see if you or a veteran you know can qualify for the free classes through the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program, click here.