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Veteran entrepreneurs get help through state program

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As veterans return home and transition back into civilian life, the switch from public to private service often requires a particular skill-set.

For those looking to start their own business, a new program signed into law by Gov. Perry last session is there to help.

Heather Diamini joined the Army at the age of 18 and was deployed to Iraq right after basic training. She served six years, always knowing she wanted to come back, get an education and start her own business.

The skills she learned in the military have translated into the launch of her website BlendHappy.com—a mix of motivational messages and healthy recipes.

But it doesn’t stop there. She's now trying to get her own herbal tea line going.

"It started online, and then I said, 'Okay, I'm going to move to e-commerce,’" Diamini said.

Much of her success has come from help she received from the Veteran Entrepreneur Program at the Texas Veterans Commission.

"We identified a gap in the market if you will, between vets wanting to start their own business and veterans seeking employment," program manager Duncan McGhee said.

McGhee said of the 35,000 veterans Texas receives every year, many are eager to build their own business.

"They've had a lifetime of people telling them what to do, (they’re) pretty much done with that," he said. "We give them that basic training, if you will, for business entrepreneurship and then connect them with the right resources."

Since 2012, the program has helped launch 22 businesses and more than 1,300 veterans have received assistance toward their goal of self employment.

The program is unique to Texas right now, but the McGhee says he's looking to take the model outside the state.

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