PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Our men and women in the military rely on a network of support. Whether they’re deployed overseas, doing a training operation or just looking for a babysitter, people in the military stick together.
That’s why when veterans leave active duty, it can be hard to find a new purpose and the same sense of community. A new non-profit, Bunker Labs, hopes to fill that void.
Inside a retrofitted old cathedral in Millvale, Bunker Labs is looking for the next big business idea.
“This program, this organization — which is Bunker Labs — really gives veterans who are going into business what they need,” said Nathan Moreno, community city leader at Bunker Labs.
With a lofted workspace, tech help and table games, veteran Nathan Moreno jumped at the opportunity to join Bunker Labs.
“Just doing the initial research, I knew that they were an incubator for veteran startups,” said Moreno. “It was a home for veterans in business to congregate and to network and to help each other out.”
Bunker Labs opens its Pittsburgh chapter on Thursday and said there was a need in the area. Moreno said more veterans live in Allegheny County than anywhere else in the state. The state’s first chapter opened in Philadelphia.
Bunker Labs officials told KDKA that 25 percent of transitioning veterans hope to become business owners but need some help. Marine Brett Morrison is one of them.
“It’s just the leadership aspect and it basically comes down to the camaraderie,” said Morrison.
Morrison hopes Bunker Labs and its veteran network will help hook consumers on his new fishing apparel line, King of Fish.
“A lot of veterans that work together, they’re looking for something that when they get out of the service that they continue that aspect of brotherhood. And it’s hard to find when you’re just going to a 9-5 job,” said Morrison.
A brotherhood that Bunker Labs hopes will turn more Pittsburgh veterans into entrepreneurs.
“Being involved in the veteran community in this capacity just replenishes that want to be with the guys that you served with,” said Moreno. “And learning each other backstories and what areas of business they’re going into, it really fills a void.”
The virtual launch party and ribbon-cutting are Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Bunker Labs is encouraging veterans to reach out to the Pittsburgh chapter on Facebook to explain their business ideas.
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