Navy Veteran follows his dream by opening small business

Entrepreneurs, Veterans share similar values


Navy Veteran Robert Gooden says he just wanted to bring something different and unique to Prince George’s County, just outside of Washington, D.C., when he decided to open his own business.

Affectionately referred to as “Doc” by those who know him well, Gooden is not your ordinary entrepreneur. He spent eight years in the Navy as a cryptologic technician. Once he transitioned to civilian life, the unique set of skills and experiences acquired by most Veterans made him marketable to many employers in the private sector.

“Attention to detail, commitment and a drive to excel are all qualities I learned from my time in the service,” said Gooden about the traits that many employers look for, as well as those that can help an entrepreneur succeed.

Gooden’s latest  endeavor, Cigars 210, is not quite a year old, but is growing rapidly despite experiencing a few bumps in the road. He credits his business’ growing success not only to its uniqueness, but to those things any Veteran business owner can do — providing quality customer service and cultivating a strong network of business associates.

“We have maintained our success by establishing and nurturing good business relationships, as well as taking excellent care of our customers,” Gooden said. “That’s very important.”

While Gooden gained valuable business experience in both the government and private sector before starting his company, there is a variety of assistance available to Veterans wanting to start a business or expand their existing business into federal contracting.

VA’s Office of Small Business & Disadvantaged Business Utilization, in collaboration with BusinessUSA , offers a collection of tools to help Veterans like Gooden start and grow a small business. Veterans can access the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal to find information about business plans, financing opportunities, government programs, training courses and much more.

‘Take advantage of the opportunities provided for Veterans,” Gooden said. “And just as important, believe in yourself and the power of your dreams.”

To learn more and take advantage of all VA’s resources for starting your own small business, visit



Dwayne Wingfield


  1. Patricia B    

    Congratulations on getting your VA business; however, as an ex-smoker, I think the VA or anyone else promoting tobacco use should reconsider NOT funding these businesses. Too many people, veterans especially, are suffering from CANCER related illnesses contributed by tobacco use. It’s a personal choice to smoke, many are addicted and can’t quit due to the tobacco industry additives that make it harder to quit and their super PACs. People, especially Veterans and the government, should be the last person encouraging others to kill themselves to make money. When these smokers end up with COPD, emphysema, cancer, etc, remember, YOU could have helped make a difference, not encouraging it.

  2. John Dudek    

    Bravo Zulu on business venture Doc, I’m not a businessman but was able to apply Machinist Mate training and experiences into successful & financial rewarding civilian career as power plant operator. Thanks for your service, good luck & fair winds. John

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