TheGrio’s 100: Richard Bennett, ex-Marine builds $8M construction company

Former Marine Richard Bennett fought in America’s initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, eventually serving four years rebuilding the country’s decimated bridged and roads. Bennett returned home after suffering a spinal injury, and was unable to find work stateside — until word of Bennett’s determination inspired Craig Williams, CEO of a construction firm. Williams made Bennett commander of his own construction company, Fidelis, which has rapidly built a sturdy reputation in construction.

In just one year, Bennett has developed an $8 million contract portfolio for Fidelis, largely through projects with the Veterans Administration. Having studied construction in college, and given Bennett’s experience on the battlefield rebuilding Iraq, the former Marine is perfectly suited to manage veteran affairs contracts — everything from repairing sidewalks to renovating medical facilities.

Richard Bennett is making history … cementing his company’s success by building a future for fellow veterans. Fidelis leads successful projects that lend credit to the efficacy of the Obama Administration’s stimulus package, which subsidizes the cost of projects Fidelis pursues. One contract of Bennett’s, a pharmacy renovation, restored and improved a much-needed medical facility in an area without many medical centers, while creating 40 new jobs in the process.

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What’s next for Richard?

This year, Fidelis’ contracts include building new emergency room facility for a hospital in Wilmington, Pa, and removing the lead paint from another medical facility in Lebanon, Pa. Bennett is responsible for negotiating these and future projects, and has a sights set on an architecture degree on the horizon.

In his own words …

“If we don’t take care of our national infrastructure, and get out of this financial crisis we’re in, when our veterans come home they’ll have nothing to do,” Bennett told HLN News in 2010. “They’ll be on the streets.”

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A little-known fact …

Younger veterans, between ages 18 and 24, are having trouble adjusting to civilian life, and suffer an unemployment rate of 21.1 percent — twice the national average.

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