FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Cruise Planners/American Express, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry, has awarded Air Force veteran Chris Silman with a franchise worth $10,000. The Arizona veteran was notified in honor of Memorial Day.
Cruise Planners hosted the nationwide giveaway competition to celebrate the launch of the company’s Corps Care veterans program last November, which provides veterans with more than $2,500 in discounts toward purchasing a franchise. To enter the contest, which was open to all honorably discharged U.S. military personnel, veterans had to describe in 500 words why they should be awarded a franchise. A panel of industry experts at Cruise Planners selected the winner based on entrepreneurial spirit, integrity and character.
“It’s important that companies and organizations reach out to help ease the transition of the veteran community back to a civilian lifestyle,” said Michelle Fee, Cruise Planners co-founder and CEO. It’s often challenging for veterans to readjust to the workforce and we want to support them in this process. We’re so pleased that Chris took the time to enter because his dedication and drive is exactly what we were looking for in the winner. He will undoubtedly fit our company perfectly and serve as a role model for other veterans eager to gain financial independence and to agents within our network.”
Silman, who served in the Air Force for six years, was deployed to Afghanistan as part of a combat search and rescue unit directly responsible for 22 combat rescues of downed pilots, injured Army soldiers and Afghan fighters. Upon being honorably discharged in 2005, Silman enrolled at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and completed a bachelor’s degree in professional aeronautics while working full-time at an energy management company.
“The transition to civilian life has had its challenges, but my strong work ethic is really what has seen me through to success,” said Silman. “This is a wonderful opportunity to grow my own business from the ground up, and I plan to make the most out of this experience.”
Silman will attend franchise training at the company’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale in July and officially open his business thereafter. Moving forward, he plans on obtaining a master’s in business administration from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah.