CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait City (WCCO) – There are currently more than 600 members of the Minnesota National Guard deployed in Kuwait. This week, we’re proud to share their stories.
WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman and photojournalist Tom Aviles are embedded with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division at Camp Arifjan.
Maj. Jon Anderson is considered the commander’s conscience at Camp Arifjan.
“I am the inspector general for the 34th ID,” Anderson said.
As the inspector general, Maj. Anderson investigates complaints of fraud, waste or abuse that violate army roles and regulations. He left his family and business behind in Norwood Young America to serve with the Red Bulls in Kuwait.
“I own a business called MI-BOX Portable Storage,” Anderson said.
It’s a small business with three to four employees that delivers storage containers to your home, you fill them up and they pick them back up and deliver them to your new home or storage facility.
“It cost me about $75,000 to deploy,” Anderson said.
Anderson says the cost of marketing and loss of networking is causing him to lose revenue.
“Luckily, it would cost me more if I didn’t have my father-in-law Tony, who is semi-retired and he took this under his wing to try and manage the operation while I’m gone which has helped immensely,” Anderson said.
Maj. Anderson is not alone. Public Affairs Sgt. Bill Boecker is running the family business in Carver County after work hours.
“My dad started the business with his brother in 1987,” Boecker said.
Bill’s Painting was to become Sgt. Boecker’s business. His dad was slowing down and wanting to retire, but all that was put on hold when Boecker was deployed.
“He’s not only dealing with the customers, doing estimates, picking up the paint color consultations – he’s now out there working with the guys every day trying to get the work done,” Boecker said.
Sgt. Boecker says his mom is now involved with the business and he does what he can after hours via computer from Kuwait. Both Boecker and Anderson say being a soldier and entrepreneur go hand in hand.
“For one – the networking. A lot of customers do come from people I met in the military and I’ve gotten to grow my business that way,” Anderson said.
Without the support of family back home and their military connections, both businesses would be hard to maintain. These business owner soldiers say technology has helped keep them up to speed with what’s going on at home.
“I’m responding to emails from customers, forwarding them to my dad. I’m getting him information – I’m playing the middle man,” Boecker said.