The award is a prestigious honor presented annually to one of the region’s outstanding veteran business owners who exemplifies the finest qualities of successful business leaders through sustained business success, a demonstrated passion for cultivating veteran entrepreneurship, and a track record of generosity in giving back to the veteran and civilian community. The award is presented by veteran-owned Military Friendly® and sponsored by Fort Pitt Capital Group.
“James’ story of success is worthy of Hollywood,” said Chris Hale, Military Friendly® co-founder, CEO and a Navy veteran. “Veteran volunteers for a second tour of Iraq after being wounded. Uses his military leadership skills to excel as a civilian employee. Risks it all to build his own successful business. And now he’s giving back generously to his fellow veterans and his community. Congratulations James on this well-deserved honor!”
Bendel was one of three outstanding veteran business owner finalists who was chosen through public voting online. His inspirational story will be published in the April issue of G.I. Jobs magazine, distributed free to transitioning service members and veterans worldwide.
Bendel served two tours in Iraq with Crazy Horse Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. He received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained during an ambush. After separating as a sergeant in 2008, Bendel worked in the oil and gas industry before launching Crazy Horse Coffee in Washington, Pa., in 2018. He has since started a nonprofit organization called Help-Hard, which helps vocational technical school students further their education and entrepreneurship. Help-Hard also contributes to other charitable community initiatives. In 2022, he launched his own consulting firm. Bendel was named the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Western Pennsylvania Veteran-Owned Small Business Person of the Year for 2022.