In 1987, pursuing his personal aspirations of defending our country's stars and stripes, Karl Braun left his home in Texas and moved to Charleston, S.C. to join the ranks of the United States Navy.
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The warm and hazy coastal town in South Carolina was home to a Navy base that has since closed, but the history still remains under the large oaks that grow along the coast. Braun was a Quartermaster; his primary function was updating and maintaining ship logs and navigating. The former serviceman spent the bulk of his time work ed him get a job manufacturing submarines. Braun spent five years in the manufacturing industry, during his time there the Charleston Navy base closed, causing manufacturing jobs to become obsolete and plummet in number. Braun found himself out of work. Instead of pursuing manufacturing further, Braun went back to Trident Technical College at the age of 29 to gain the necessary skills to pursue alternate vocations.
Braun received his degree in accounting and promptly began working for a cable company where he stayed for 17 years. Despite this steadfast loyalty, due to a company-wide buyout Braun was left unemployed once again.
Through his personal experiences and his well-rounded skill set, Braun chose to funnel his relentless energy, passion and appreciation for hard work into self-employment. After extensive internet searches and a perfectly timed ad-popup, Braun bought a Mosquito Joe franchise, the first in South Carolina. Mosquito Joe, a mosquito control treatment provider, is part of the VetFran program allowing Braun to utilize the benefits offered to him as gratitude for his service.
As a veteran and entrepreneur, Braun credits much of his success with Mosquito Joe to the program, “The financial benefits can be the difference between being able to open the franchise or not. In my case, I was able to reduce my initial franchise fee by $2,500, a great discount when cash flow is so important,” Braun said.
Programs like VetFran, a subsidiary of the International Franchise Association, and government drivers such as the Patriot Express Loan Act strive to assist those who have served our country and help them with their reintroduction into the workforce. These specific objectives and lofty goals (VetFran’s Operation Enduring Opportunity hopes to recruit 80,000 veteran franchise owners and their spouses through 2014) have created opportunities for veterans they otherwise might not have been able to utilize.
“Unlike other government civil service jobs, the pay scale for these soldiers, sailors and airmen can be very low, particularly for the enlisted ranks. I know from experience that any discount provided is much appreciated, whether it be a movie ticket or a meal, every little bit helps,” Braun said.
In addition to VetFran, Braun utilized The Small Business Administration Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative, which helps eligible veterans and members of the military community “establish or expand a small business.”
A U.S. Census data study collected by the International Franchise Association Education Foundation states one out of every seven franchise businesses are owned and operated by veterans of the U.S. military and more than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise businesses provide jobs directly for 815,000 Americans and generate more than $41 billion in GDP. These significant numbers show the strength veterans show not only in dedication and active duty, but in successful business and civilian life as well.