Before Larry Colley serviced air conditioners, he served in our military.
"Most of my service was in the Middle East," he explained. "I served six years with the 82nd Airborne Division and the rest of the time with the United States Army Special Forces."
Coming home meant facing the heat of a tough job market, so Larry decided to start his own air conditioning business.
"I think Larry's business is great. You know, what better place than Tampa, Florida to have an air conditioning repair business," said Mark Mohler, the founder of a Florida-based company called Sprigster. "Our company uses crowd funding to raise financing for veterans that are trying to start a business."
Larry received $4,000 from regular folks in the community. It was enough to put a down payment on a van.
"The van is everything; the technician actually lives out of his van most of the time."
Curtis Wormsbaker, Larry's lead technician, said, "I was thrilled to take the job, I was desperate for work and I came back from Montana trying to find a job in the oil rigs and it didn't work out and came back here and thank god, he was able to put me to work."
Since starting the business in May, Larry has hired six people, most of them were out of work.
"The key behind this business was to find a way to solve veteran unemployment and we thought a big part of solving veteran unemployment was to get veterans to start their own businesses, so they can hire themselves," explained Mark.
The unemployment rate for veterans is 11 percent, compared to the 7.8 percent national average among Americans. While Congress failed to pass the Job Corps proposal, the power to fix the problem could lie in the hands of veterans like Larry.
"I still have an obligation to the country, to my community to do something and not just take my retirement check and sit beside the pool with a pina colada," he said.
More than just a cool idea, Sprigster helps Americans achieve the ultimate act of patriotism by helping those who fight for our freedom.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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