BELCHERTOWN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce has been around since 2018.

The organization helps businesses owned by veterans and their family members throughout New England.

We introduce you to Lisa Ducharme, the face behind the growing non-profit.

Service and sacrifice is rich in Lisa's family tree.

"We have over 200 years of military in my family and every branch of the service to include the Coast Guard," Ducharme tells us.

Ducharme followed suit and enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1986.

"I am probably the only person that you know, or that anybody knows, as a veteran that has been involved in three different terrorist acts and yet never deployed, so my first at Clark Air Base, we had the terrorist attack. It was a small one and I was working causality at the time. Then, Khobar Towers happened. I was working Air Force causality at the time and then at the Pentagon on 9/11, so my entire career set me up for 9/11, which worked out perfect, because it was all about accountability and all of that. That was actually the part that set me on the path to where I am today with helping veterans," explained Ducharme.

Her assignment today: the New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce.

The organization launched on November 11, 2018 at 11:01 a.m.

"We wanted to honor the end of World War I and so we did an actual ceremony in Rhode Island at the World War I monument to launch the New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce," says Ducharme.

The non-profit works with more than 140,000 military-owned businesses throughout New England and provides them with necessary resources.

"We want to be able to support our veterans businesses like those folks support us. Learning is always so important and understanding how valuable the resources are that we have as veterans," stated Ducharme.

Ducharme tells Western Mass News they are looking for people to mentor veteran business owners and host events or workshops.

"We’re looking at ways to do different collaborations, because there was a 2017 report put out by the fellow reserves and the SBA and one of the things that they said is our veteran businesses are going down, they’re failing, and individuals aren’t starting veteran businesses. One of the reasons was the social connection. They’re missing that. You have to start off as a team. Even if you are a one person business, you have to start off as a team. Finance is the other side of the house, so we also try to get them financially ready. We have so many wonderful programs out there. It’s just a matter of getting them to the right program and helping them that way," added Ducharme.

This month we salute Lisa Ducharme for her service in the United States Air Force and dedication to helping other veterans and their businesses succeed.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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It's important to note that we are new and are not working with 140,000 veteran owned businesses in New England, however, that is our goal. We would like to connect all veteran-owned businesses.

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