By Vanessa Lynch, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsApril 8, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Each year, the U.S. Small Business Administration honors outstanding small business owners, entrepreneurs and advocates who demonstrate the business acumen, tenacity and achievement, particularly in the face of adversity, to excel in their industry.
Hank Cashen, director of the Soldier Family Assistance Center, called "Na Kao Puuhonua," or the Warrior Place of Refuge, was nominated for the 2011 Veteran Small Business Champion award.
Cashen and his team offer a one-stop shop for Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers and families to fulfill their vital mission: to heal. Since transitioning back to work after an injury or out of the military can be a pretty scary event, the SFAC is a light at the end of the process to help with Soldier and family readiness and well-being.
"We work hand-in-glove with our Soldiers and their families to get them either ready to go back to work or to leave the Army with either a work or education plan," Cashen said.
The SFAC partners with several organizations to get counselors and liaisons on hand for education, finance, Veterans Affairs, military benefits, social services assistance, the Army Career Alumni Program, Child and Youth Services, and Army Community Service.
Listening to the needs of WTB Soldiers has always been a priority for Cashen, and when Soldiers started showing an interest in starting their own businesses, Cashen and his team put the idea in motion.
"We started a small business seminar, where we invited community experts to come in to speak to our Soldiers who were interested in entrepreneurship," Cashen said, about the program that started in April 2010. "Now we run a seminar every month, and the Soldiers have been very receptive to all the knowledge and information being given to them from respected community business leaders."
Cashen's small business seminars are responsible for the start and success of several new business ventures.
"It's always been a dream of mine to run my own business, and Hank Cashen gave me the tools I needed and helped me realize that dream," said retired Staff Sgt. Fred Shaw of his towing business, Warrior Express Towing, which he started while transitioning out of the WTB a year ago. "If you don't have something set up before you get out of the Army, you won't survive. You need to take advantage of all that the Army offers you, so you can be successful when you get out."
The Veteran Small Business Champion award recognizes an individual who has fulfilled a commitment to support advancing small business opportunities for veterans of the U.S. armed forces, which is one of many reasons why Naomi Masuno, one of the SBA seminars' guest speakers, nominated Cashen.
"I had no idea she nominated me until I found out that I won at both the state and national level," Cashen said, about being honored at the state legislature, March 28. "Even though I won the award, it wouldn't have been possible without the support of my staff here."
Cashen also will be honored at the 24th Annual Statewide SBA luncheon, April 29, at Hilton Hawaiian Village. He is now competing at the national level.
Winners will be announced during Small Business Week, May 16-20, in Washington.
For additional information on Small Business Administration seminars, call SFAC at 808-655-7171.