Starting a new business is hard, especially for veterans. This org makes it much easier.
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Macy's

When Officer Kimberly Jung  was looking for roadside bombs in Afghanistan, she couldn't help but notice a vicious cycle.

"It felt like every time we found one, a new one would take its place," Jung recalled in an interview with Bunker Labs.

She was a route clearance platoon leader, so it was a big part of her job. But constantly uncovering weapons of war made her wish they could interact with the land and its people in a more positive way.


She wasn't the only one who felt like this; several of her friends who served with her also saw the symbolism behind the seemingly unending activity. It was time to change how they related to Afghanistan.

When Jung returned to civilian life, she and her colleagues decided to start cultivating peace by working with Afghan farmers to harvest saffron.

Rumi (right) with her fellow co-founders. Photo via Bunker Labs/YouTube.

They co-founded a company called Rumi Spice in Chicago to help make the expensive and rare saffron spice more available in the states.

For them, it's not just about turning a profit. They have hired Afghan employees and created lasting partnerships with Afghan farmers to encourage a more healthy relationship with the war-torn nation.

"What we’re doing here is laying a sustainable foundation for peace through economic empowerment," Jung explained.  

By working with Afghanistan in this way, Rumi Spice is helping to infuse economic prosperity back into a country that desperately needs the boost. This, in turn, helps the farmers think positively about American businesses that want them to maintain their seat in the world's marketplace.

As of last year, Rumi Spice has been able to export 5% of Afghanistan’s total saffron available for it. It's a huge leap for such a small business, especially because they're simultaneously strengthening a key link between Afghanistan and the Western world.

Their thriving business is largely possible due to assistance from Bunker Labs — a national nonprofit that empowers veterans to become leading entrepreneurs.

Photo via Bunker Labs.

Bunker Labs was founded by former veteran Todd Connor, whose own experience returning home from the Navy sparked this idea for an interactive support system for veterans interested in starting their own businesses.

"He realized that one of the main barriers to success was the resources, networks, and a connected ecosystem in which to support them," Becca Keaty, Chief Development Officer for Bunker Labs, explains in an email.

So that's exactly what Bunker Labs provides. It inspires and equips veterans through immersive workshops, active mentorships, and innovative programs both in-person and online via its Launch Lab Online. But perhaps most importantly, it helps them establish a tribe of fellow veterans who are also pursuing their business dreams.

Jung, in particular, has found that network incredibly helpful and motivating.

"Our biggest supporters have been other veterans," Jung said. "Being part of a veteran community has been key to our success."

Jung works with another veteran at a Bunker Lab. Photo via Bunker Labs/YouTube.

And she's far from alone. As of February 2018, Bunker Labs entrepreneurs have helped create 1,581 new jobs and generate $67,449,544 in revenue. What's more, the organization has headquarters in 22 major cities across the country, with a three-year goal of getting one in all 50 states, so those numbers will only continue to climb.

Thanks to brands like Macy's, that goal will likely be reached even sooner. As part of its July 4 Give Back campaign, if you donate $3 at checkout in stores or online, you'll receive 25% percent off your purchase, and a portion of your donation goes to Bunker Labs. Your donations will help them expand their programs, making them more accessible to a larger population of veterans.

It can be especially hard for veterans making the transition back to civilian life to set themselves up for success in business. According to Bunker Labs, while 25% of returning veterans want to be entrepreneurs, only 4% manage to do it because they don't know where to start. But now, with organizations like Bunker Labs in place, they can avoid a lot of that guesswork and turn to fellow veteran entrepreneurs for advice when they're feeling overwhelmed or looking for assistance.

Being in the military means never leaving someone behind. That sentiment doesn't expire when their uniforms are off.

To learn more about Bunker Labs, check out this video:

Salute those who serve by donating at Macy's to organizations that support veteran and military families from June 28th — July 8th.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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