USO to host veteran, military entrepreneurs’ conference Feb 22 - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

USO to host veteran, military entrepreneurs’ conference Feb 22

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Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:00 am

The USO of North Carolina and American Dream U will host their first veteran transition conference in Jacksonville, Feb. 22 from noon to 2 p.m.

The free informational conference is geared to veterans, spouses and service members transitioning out of the military. VETRACONx will feature local veteran entrepreneurs, who will share their success stories following their military career.

"I want to give the attendees tools and resources that could be immediately implemented into their transition strategy," said Michael Barbera, Carolina regional director with American Dream U.

"I want to witness the attendees achieve measurable returns."

According to Barbera, they expect between 100-150 participants. The conference will feature TED-style talks and a 60-minute discussion focusing on challenges and opportunities. Participants are encouraged to bring questions for the featured speakers.

There are 2.5M veteran-owned businesses in the U.S., according to a study published by the Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship. North Carolina is among the top 10 states with the highest numbers of veteran entrepreneurs.

"Participants will hear the firsthand accounts of the challenges associated with military transitions into entrepreneurship and employment, followed by recommendations and actionable content to overcome those challenges," said Barbera. "We are excited to share insights and offer actionable information to transitioning service members."

The lineup of featured speakers will present insightful information regarding their experiences, entrepreneurship and networking opportunities.

Featured speakers are: Brian Vinciguerra, a retired Marine and owner of Cracked it! Escape Games, who will share his journey from the front lines to fulfilling his dream of becoming his own boss. Vinciguerra will talk about his struggles and victories and how he made his dream a reality.

Elizabeth Marion, a military spouse and chief operations officer for Elite Innovations, will discuss how military transitions affect the entire family. Marion will share effective techniques to handle the change as a unit.

Jack Mandaville, a retired Marine, writer and entertainer, who is known for his work with the military-themed apparel company Ranger Up and the 2016 film "Range 15," will talk about his transition and the challenges he faced in the process. Mandaville will discuss important factors that you need to acknowledge for a successful transition.

Military spouse, Kaylee Diaz and military mom, Angela Diaz, both owners of HappyCakes Cupcakery will also share their experiences. Kaylee will discuss her experience going from an online-only store, to gaining national attention for competing and winning in the TV show Cupcake Wars in 2013. Angela will address the benefits and the challenges that every aspiring business owner should know upon embarking on their journey to self-employment.

American Dream U is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping active-duty military, veterans, and their spouses get access to resources for their professional development.

For more information about VETRACONx, contact Michael Barbera at

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