From Iraq to B-school: Retraining disabled vets

Mentoring, class time and online study sessions are helping equip a new wave of entrepreneurs.

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Disabled veteran Rico Edillor presents his business plan to the class.

(Fortune Small Business) -- For disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, it was a very different kind of boot camp.

In August, UCLA's prestigious Anderson School of Management opened its doors to 15 disabled veterans with new businesses after putting them through three weeks of online training. Though conceived as a way of thanking the troops, the free classes on business plans, funding, and operations did not pull any punches. At the final pitch meeting the entrepreneurs' fear was palpable.

"We're not here to clap and send them on their way," says associate dean Al Osbourne. His colleagues are following up with online mentoring and Web-based study sessions.

That works for Allen McAfee, 26, a Navy corpsman who sustained shrapnel injuries in Iraq and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He and a fellow disabled vet launched a startup that will clean toxic sites. Business courses at their community college had been unhelpful, McAfee says, "but I'm really digging this." To top of page

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