VSAT is aimed “to provide them the opportunity to go out there, start up a business, be entrepreneurs, be employers instead of employees, drive the market, create jobs, and continue making America what it is, and that is great and free, Villareal said. Marine veteran Colin Archipley and his wife, Karen, started the program five years ago on their organic farm above Escondido, Calif. With some funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs, they've focus more lately on active-duty service members preparing to leave the service. The intensive, six-week, 270-hour course is now operated in partnership with California State University San Marcos. Veteran benefits and donations are available to cover the $4,500 cost, writes Kovach.
One of the most successful graduates is Mike Hanes, a former Force Recon Marine and Iraq combat veteran who struggled to adjust after he left the service in 2004, notes Kovach. "For about two years while he attended college, he was homeless. 'After class at night, I’d crawl into a bush' in Balboa Park, he said. He graduated in 2009 from San Diego State University but still lacked the business know-how and network to turn his hot sauce recipe into a marketable product. He graduated from VSAT in February and now his Dang! hot sauce is sold in 12 local Whole Foods stores." (Read more.)