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SBA names Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year

By U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

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Michael Zacchea
Hartford, CT – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced its annual award winners for 2012. Michael Zacchea, Program Director of the University of Connecticut Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities has been selected to receive the prestigious Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year award.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and recognizing those who work so hard to facilitate their success is truly an honor,” said Bernard M. Sweeney, SBA District Director for Connecticut. “As a veteran, it is a particular privilege to present this award to Michael Zacchea, who has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving those who have served,” added Sweeney.

Mike Zacchea was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1990. He served as a forward observer and platoon commander, deploying to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope and to Haiti for Operation Support Democracy. In March 2004, as a major, he deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. His team's mission was to build, train, and lead in combat the first Iraqi army battalion trained by the US military. During this time, the battalion participated in Operation Phantom Fury, the 2nd Battle of Fallujah. During the battle, Mike was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade, but declined to be medically evacuated.

Mike's military awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (with gold star in lieu of 2nd award), the Purple Heart Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and numerous unit and campaign awards. Mike was also the first and at the time only American recognized by the Iraqi government by the Order of the Lion of Babylon. As a result of his wounds, Mike was medically retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

He is currently the Program Director of the University of Connecticut Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, through which he has helped start 25 businesses since 2010. He is also involved in the creation of ConnectVets, Inc., a non-profit organization of veteran-owned businesses in the state of CT. He recently joined a multi-agency cross-disciplinary working group chaired by the Commissioner of the CT Dept of Veterans Affairs to align veteran education, job-training, and workforce re-entry issues. Zacchea will be honored at an SBA celebration luncheon on June 5th at the Heritage Hotel in Southbury.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953, and assists our nation’s small businesses in creating jobs, preserving free competitive enterprise, and strengthening the overall economy of our nation. With an ongoing commitment to provide access to capital, government contracting opportunities and technical assistance to our small businesses, the SBA currently has a small business loan portfolio of $107 billion working to facilitate the success of our nation’s entrepreneurs.

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