Boots to Suits: University of Colorado Denver

by Holli Keyser

How would you like to work with a hero every day? That’s exactly what company Anchor Network Solutions ( did when it hired the first CU Denver Boots to Suits student participant Tyler Heath.

Heath spent four years in the Army including a 20-month tour in Iraq as part of the infantry in the 82nd airborne division. In 2008, Heath began pursuing a degree in information systems at the University of Colorado-Denver and will graduate this spring.

In the course of background checks on Heath, Anchor Solutions CEO Vince Tinnirello searched his name online and saw the Boots to Suits 9News story featuring Heath and his mentor Rich Lewis, president and CEO of RTL Networks.

“Anyone with that kind of initiative; I’m going to invest in them and we’re going to do whatever we can to make them successful,” said Tinnirello. “I find military veterans are such easy hires because of their discipline.”

Earlier this year, University of Colorado-Denver veteran student Michael Petschel, along with veteran student services director Cameron Cook and vice chancellor Leanna Clark, approached the Denver Metro Chamber with an idea to help student veterans secure jobs. A few short months later, the concept became a reality and is making an impact in the lives of veteran students.

Boots to Suits is a comprehensive program designed to help veterans shift from their roles as service members to students, and from there, to business professionals and leaders in the community.

Thanks to the post-9/11 GI Bill and the withdrawal of troops overseas, veterans more than ever are seeking post-secondary education, and the U.S. Depart of Veteran Affairs expects the veteran student population to triple by Fall 2014.

That’s where the Boots to Suits program comes into play with four primary components:

  • Mentor a Hero – The Chamber has assisted in matching 33 business leaders to mentor senior veteran students and is currently seeking more business professionals to become involved.
  • Offer an Internship – Employers can recruit veteran students to work on special projects or assist in daily tasks.
  • Hire a Veteran – In addition to the benefit of working alongside a highly trained and well-educated worker, there are new tax credits available to businesses who hire veterans. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit offers businesses that hire unemployed veterans up to $5,600 per veteran, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities with a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.
  • Suit Up a Veteran – Many student veterans went directly from high school into the military and lack the professional business attire to wear to job interviews. As a result, the Suit Up a Veteran fund was established to help graduating seniors purchase a suit. For just $500, employers can give a veteran student a business suit as well as give back to someone who has given so much for our country.


For more information on CU Denver Boots to Suits contact Holli Keyser at 303-620-8022 [email protected] or visit

Holli Keyser is executive assistant to Chamber President and CEO Kelly Brough.

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