Expert: Military Veterans In Business


Melissa Jarboe

[VET-preneur — a military veteran who owns and/or manages a business enterprise.]

ONE OF TOPEKA’S best kept secrets might be the increasing veteran population who own businesses and fill corporate leadership positions locally.

Military training provides a foundation for success in life after serving. Veteran entrepreneurs do not have to boast about their service or sacrifice to gain momentum in our community. Instead, they focus their efforts on accomplishing their goal by leading from the front.

Last year, identified the best places for military retirees to live and ranked Topeka as #6 in its Top 10 List. considered a number of factors: climate, cost of living, unemployment rate, proximity to military installations, VA hospitals, recreational opportunities, cultural amenities, best military retirement states and overall livability. They also asked military veterans what they wanted in a city.


Recruiting Veteran Students
Washburn University recruits veteran students from across the nation which brings diversity to the classroom. While fewer students are earning a postsecondary education, institutions can compensate by enrolling service members who already come with governmental subsidies.

Military Relations Council
The Topeka Chamber of Commerce created a Military Relations Council to unite the military and civilian communities in Topeka. Over a dozen members from Topeka businesses met to discuss changes that are needed or wanted in the community. Veterans from businesses, city agencies and the education field are leading the charge.

Military-Student Success Space
Washburn University created a Military- Student Success Space on campus to address veterans who are adapting to the loss of camaraderie and belonging to a troop. The success space offers free counseling sessions and a dedicated place for veterans to congregate, study and meet one another. Programs such as Student Veterans of America and vet-to-vet mentorships with local businesses offer opportunities for leadership and community engagement.

Veteran Engagement Groups
Forge for young professionals, with an overall mission to recruit, retain and train young talent for the Topeka Community, has expressed interest in creating Veteran Engagement Groups in Topeka businesses to assist with the ongoing need for qualified employees.