This Memorial Day, Central Coast veterans are opening their business doors and sharing their journey from service members to entrepreneurs.
Morro Bay resident and co-owner of Distasio’s on the Bay, Ken Macmillan, served in the U.S. army during the Vietnam War, along with his wife who was a veteran nurse at the time.
When he returned to civilian life, he never really spoke about being a veteran.
“I was very proud of what I did and proud of the people I was with, but it was not something you wanted to go out and talk about,” said Macmillan.
Macmillan described that being a Vietnam War veteran had a negative connotation during that time. Now, he proudly claims his restaurant as a veteran-owned business and hopes others can support other veteran-owned businesses too.
“I hope that everybody could support a veteran owned business wherever possible,” said Macmillan.
At the South County Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nipomo, members provide support to veterans, their families and the community.
“Door's always open for vets,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars post commander Thomas Morgan. “We’ve paid utility bills. We’ve helped vets traveling through that get their wallets stolen.”
One man who received support from the South County Veterans of Foreign Wars was Brandon Owens, the president of All Source Engineering. Owens was a senior intelligence sergeant for the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade.
He got the opportunity to start his business through state and federal government incentives for disabled, veteran-owned businesses.
“I wouldn’t take it back. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Running my own business is a gift from God,” Owens said.
This Memorial Day Weekend, veterans hope people remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
“We kind of lose focus on what’s really important and that's our freedom. Our freedom is based on the people who had died which happen to be our brothers and sisters in arms,” Owens said.
The South County Veterans of Foreign Wars added that it’s important to remember to thank veterans for their service for our country.