"Veterans in Residence" program helping veterans grow businesses

Published: May. 15, 2018 at 3:31 PM EDT
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Artilleryman turned software engineer Evans Wang is making the rounds at his second Operation Code event in New York City.

The army veteran started the group's New York chapter to help vets transition to successful tech careers.

"Sometimes you hear 'Oh, she's a veteran, he's a veteran' and you think wounded warrior - somebody with TBI or PTSD - but we're out here hustling we're out here grinding," he says.

After combat tours in Kuwait and Iraq and a deployment to South Africa, Evans is not only leading Operation Code, he's also part of an elite group in New York's first "Veterans in Residence" program.

"When you join the civilian world, not everyone is looking out for you. Not everyone has your back like they do in the military. And when I came back in here, I knew that people had my back."

The program is a collaboration between the shared workspace company WeWork and a non-profit called Bunker Labs to help vets grow their businesses.

"What happens is we'll tell you straight, exactly, "Hey, you've got to do this differently, this doesn't make any sense. We're not sure about your business model,'" says Executive Director Don Johnston.

For six months, they're learning from successful entrepreneurs and each other.

"Just being able to come in and feed off that energy off the other veterans in here kind of bounce ideas off and then be able to provide them some technical advice," Evans says.

Evans says he is proud to give back to his fellow veterans.

"I've always wanted to give back and serve, even after I served."

Now, Evans is part of a larger "Veterans in Residence" goal: growing the businesses of 10,000 vets over the next 5 years.