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SCORE Awards: Spinal Health & Wellness

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ( MainStreet) -- Dolly Garnecki, owner of Spinal Health & Wellness and winner of this year's SCORE Outstanding Veteran-owned Small Business award, says the biggest lesson she's learned as an entrepreneur is knowing who and when to ask for help.

Spinal Health & Wellness is a health care, chiropractic and physical rehabilitation business Garnecki launched in December 2008. The clinic has three employees and several more subcontractors.

Dolly Garnecki, winner of the SCORE Outstanding Veteran-owned Small Business award, works with a client at her Spinal Health & Wellness in Charlotteville, Ga.

Before opening her business, Garnecki was a lieutenant, earning her flying wings as an Air Battle Manager in the U.S. Air Force for five years. She served in Iraq, typically flying long missions on uncomfortable seats, and the rigors of flying eventually took a toll on her spine, according to her website. After a serious car accident, she suffered so much pain she finally saw a chiropractor in Oklahoma, changing her life with treatments to get her spine healthy again.

Garnecki was so impressed that it was where she decided to take her own career, despite the promise of a healthy signing bonus from the military to renew her contract.

By the time Garnecki was ready to launch the business, though, the recession had set in. The first few years were tough for Garnecki, she says.

"We started at the height of the recession. It's something that the military and college doesn't exactly prepare you for. If it wasn't for SCORE, we may not be in business today," Garnecki said upon accepting her award at a gala hosted by SCORE on Thursday.

Last week, Garnecki answered a few questions about her business from TheStreet.

What does this award mean to you?

Garnecki: It's been a tumultuous business launch and growth during formidable economic times. There was a point within our first year of business that we weren't certain we could meet our overhead and continue as a business much beyond the first year. We were so close to having our dream -- our passion for creating a specialty niche within chiropractic and rehabilitation -- completely shattered and spending the rest of our working lives paying for the business loan. I've flown in combat during the Iraq War facing the uncertainty of whether or not I'd return home from the war. The stresses of war and combat missions pale in comparison to the constant stress and uncertainty of launching and running a new business during an economic recession.

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