**\*Article written by Camryn Lawyea**

*“It is the hard days – the times that challenge you to your very core – that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”*
– Sheryl Sandberg

Resiliency – a necessary trait for dealing with high stress and mentally taxing situations. In the military, the ability to bounce back after taking a hit can be imperative to survival. In business, this same mentality can be key to a company’s success. For entrepreneurs looking to launch a passion or an idea into a highly competitive market, resiliency is crucial.

Tara Hutchinson, a veteran who served ten years in the U.S. Army, realized the importance of this trait in 2006 while on deployment to Iraq. Tara’s truck hit a roadside bomb, instantly severing her leg just above the knee. From this, Tara was left with a permanent movement disorder, severe depression, and as a result, a number of other health-related challenges.

At a point when she needed it most, Tara found her resiliency and decided to retake charge of her life. She started [Tara Hutch Fine Jewelry](https://www.tarahutchjewelry.com/) which allowed her to work on her fine motor skills and embrace a passion. It not only gave her a sense of pride, but today, her craft empowers other women to feel like rock stars in times when they are struggling to find their confidence. In 2016, Tara decided to take another step forward and invest more into her business. She wanted to build her skillset, expand her network, and capitalize on opportunities that were available to her. This led her to a [Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship](http://vwise.vets.syr.edu/) (V-WISE) conference in San Antonio.

V-WISE, which takes place twice a year around the country, enables women like Tara to turn their passions, their strengths, and their resiliency into businesses. V-WISE falls under the Entrepreneurship portfolio at the [Institute for Veterans and Military Families](https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/) (IVMF) – this group of programs offers no-cost and low-cost training for veteran and military spouse-owned businesses, no matter where they are in their business lifecycle. The V-WISE conference, consisting of nearly 200 women veterans and military spouses/life-partners, cultivates a community of support, engagement, and respect. Throughout the weekend the women make valuable connections with each other, as well as with a host of speakers and entrepreneurship experts. Participants engage in sessions that teach them how to leverage technology to their competitive advantage, develop more robust business plans, gain access to key business resources, discover opportunities for growth, and possibly compete in a business plan competition to win capital for their company.

In the midst of veteran leaders, such as Colonel Jill Chambers (U.S. Army, Retired) and Larry Broughton (former Green Beret, U.S. Army Special Forces), and amongst like-minded women, participants are inspired, motivated, and connected by a sense of pride for this country and their businesses. Beyond the sessions, personal connections are formed during office hours and Q&A sessions with the experts. Participants might also get the opportunity to experience coaching sessions with successful entrepreneurs and business leaders like Neale Godfrey and Jill Belconis. These breakouts are where the truly unique, individualized golden nuggets of business and life advice are discovered, empowering participants to face their biggest obstacles or discover their most lucrative opportunities.

With nearly 3,000 conference graduates across the United States, V-WISE will be celebrating its 19th and 20th events this year in Pittsburgh and San Diego, respectively. These events will allow women to take the resiliency that helped them through their military service, as a service woman and/or spouse/life-partner, and launch their ideas into action.

**For those of you who are attending the conference in Pittsburgh or San Diego, we are excited to meet you and help you realize your goals!**

**For those of you who have already graduated from V-WISE, we are excited to have you in this network!** We would also encourage you to look into a new program offering for growing veteran-owned businesses:

– **EBV Accelerate** – A bootcamp-style program focused on growth that tackles head-on topics such as the financial, management, marketing, and strategic planning challenges established businesses face. **Learn more about the program and apply** [**here**](https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/veteran-and-family-resources/starting-growing-a-business/ebv-accelerate/)**!**

**Please comment and share your experiences – we would love to hear from you!**

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**Camryn Lawyea** is a student employee of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and a student of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. Her father is a veteran of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, respectively.