Some Nebraska programs are helping those who serve our country by giving a business boost to veterans.
For Cory Schmidt, the road from fighting fires to fixing tires started right after high school when he joined the Air Force.
"They had these things on base called auto hobby shops where you could work on your own personal vehicles or friends vehicles," he said.
And that's exactly what he did by building cars from the ground up.
“A lot of guys would take vacation and go home or go wherever,” Schmidt said. “There's several times that I took time off and worked on these vehicles on my off time.”
Now, he owns and operates Hardcore 4x4, an auto shop in St. Paul.
“Once I got out, that hobby kind of grew into a career,” Schmidt said.
It was a long road from a hobby on a California Air Force base to a business in St. Paul, Nebraska. But, it's one that he says came with some help.
That help came in the form of a Patriot Express Loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Schmidt says it helped open the doors to his company.
“I might not have had a business here at all without that program,” he said.
Veteran Assistance and Service Program Coordinator Traci Miller said it’s not an uncommon issue. She said it’s one that these types of programs can help with.
“With so many returning home and with a limited job market, this provides them an excellent opportunity to get themselves out there and really use the skills they've garnered from their military service,” Miller said.
But, it’s not just loans that give veterans a boost at business outside a uniform. She said it’s also about community support for those ventures.
“It's our duty. These people have given up so much for us,” Miller said. “The least we can do is to give back to them.”
She said that can mean lending a hand by giving business to veterans like Schmidt.
“Veterans, they've done a lot for the community for the most part and the country as a whole,” Schmidt said. “I think it's just an easy way to return that loyalty.”