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Home News Legion small business workshop life-changing for veteran

Legion small business workshop life-changing for veteran

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U.S. Army veteran Rodney Jenkins attended an American Legion Department of New Jersey Boots to Business workshop earlier this summer to learn more about entrepreneurship. He left wanting to serve his fellow veterans.

Jenkins was so moved by the Legion’s efforts to assist New Jersey veterans that he joined the department’s headquarters post and is looking toward finding a local post to settle in down the road.

“When I came back (from the workshop), I just wanted to do so many things for veterans … those who’ve been in the situation I’ve been in before,” Jenkins said. “I guess the business wasn’t the part I needed. The part I needed was … helping people. That’s what I got out of it. Words cannot really describe what I felt. But I’m enthused.”

The 63-year-old Jenkins served in the U.S. Army from 1971 to 1974, serving in Germany. In his 40-plus years since leaving the military, “I just hadn’t been that interested (in joining the Legion),” he said.





But that changed after it was suggested he attend the Boots to Business Workshop in Toms River, N.J. The workshops – a collaborative effort with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and local and state employment agencies – provide entrepreneurship training for veterans who want to start, expand or purchase a small business.

“I wanted to get into a business,” Jenkins said. “I thought I had the enthusiasm to do it. But there was another reason for me going down that, and that was to learn more about (the Legion) and all the things that they have to offer.”

Jenkins came away impressed. “It was the most exhilarating feeling to be in that room and to be with people from all walks of life: women, men, different races, different nationalities, coming from different background and different wars,” he said. “It was an experience that I needed to experience to push myself into do something different.”

Jenkins is currently employed at the New Jersey One Stop Career Center in Newark where he provides employment assistance for fellow veterans. He wants to provide as much help as he can to those still struggling with the transition from the military to civilian world – sparked by his Legion experience in Toms River.

“When I went down there and experienced what I experienced, it was just tremendous,” Jenkins said. “They didn’t ask who I was … what I did, anything like that. All they said was ‘How can I help?’ That’s how I’ve been since I’ve been home: ‘How can I help?’”


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