Afghanistan War Commander's Next Mission: Helping Female Vets Start Businesses

In this March 2, 2016 file photo, new U.S. commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson speaks during a change of command ceremony at the Resolute Support Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
In this March 2, 2016 file photo, new U.S. commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson speaks during a change of command ceremony at the Resolute Support Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Retired Army Gen. John Nicholson, the longest-serving commander in America's longest war in Afghanistan, has been named head of the PenFed Foundation, with a goal of boosting business opportunities for female veterans.

A PenFed news release Tuesday said that Nicholson, 61, who commanded U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan from March 2016 to September 2018, started the new job April 15 and will focus on expanding the non-profit Foundation's Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program, or VEIP.

Nicholson is taking the lead in plans to launch a Women's VEIP to "bridge the gap of investment capital to female veteran entrepreneurs by providing funding" and "female representation in the investment process," the release states.

"I look forward to expanding the Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program because I know that creating jobs for innovative veterans is always a great investment," he said in the release.

The VEIP provides veteran-owned start-ups with seed capital and support networks to build their businesses, according to the foundation. Information on the programs is available at www.penfedfoundation.org

The PenFed Foundation, an affiliate of the PenFed Credit Union, has provided more than $30 million in total financial support to the military community since its founding in 2001, the release said.

Nicholson, the former head of the 82nd Airborne Division, was succeeded as commander in Afghanistan last September by Army Gen. Scott Miller.

When Nicholson took over in Afghanistan in 2016, U.S. troop strength had dwindled to about 8,400. He argued for more troops in an effort to drive the Taliban into peace negotiations.

In a national address in August 2017, President Donald Trump committed to sending at least 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan with a new "conditions-based" strategy while acknowledging that he was reluctant to do so.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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