Of the 80 million small businesses in the United States, about four million are owned by veterans. The total military veteran population is about 24 million. This five percent of small businesses is more than one would expect, given the total population number, according to SmallBusinessNotes.com.
Veteran startups have a higher success rate when compared with other business startups, as well. SmallBusinessNotes.com said this is due in part to the experience veterans receive while in the military. It has been found that many veterans decide to start building their own businesses instead of taking jobs with other employers upon retirement. Until 1999, there were no services or other assistance available to veterans coming into the commercial marketplace and competing with established businesses.
Starting with the Persian Gulf War, Congress examined remedies to business situations reported by reservists. These reservists’ businesses were harmed, severely crippled or even lost, while these soldiers were deployed, according to SmallBusinessNotes.com. Financial, technical and procurement assistance was provided with the enactment of Public Law 106-50, the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999.
Financial relief to reservists ordered to active duty is one of the most important provisions of the legislation. Other provisions include the establishment of the Office of Veteran Business Development (OVBD). This office is administered within the Small Business Administration, by an Associate Administrator for Veterans Business Development, to serve veteran and service-disabled small businesses, according to SmallBusinessNotes.com.
The Act also established the National Veterans Business Development Corporation to give veterans improved access to technical assistance concerning entrepreneurship, as well as the formation and expansion of small businesses, according to SmallBusinessNotes.com.
It also established an Advisory Committee on Veteran Business Affairs as an independent source for advice and policy endorsements concerning the business affairs of veterans. SmallBusinessNotes.com also reports that this legislation required the SBA Administrator and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) to provide training and counseling services for veterans.
There are other organizations, such as the Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Alliance (DVBE Alliance) in Southern California, that seek to help some 900 companies owned by disabled veterans. Matching bodies to jobs is also an important function. They have sponsored the two-day Keeping the Promise Veteran Owned Business Expo for 14 years, according to OCRegister.com.
The DVBE Alliance’s work is helped by a California law that allows incentives to be given to prime contractors using certified disabled veteran companies as subcontractors, according to DVBE executive director, Rich Dryden, speaking in OCRegister.com.
Even with strong performance in the economy and decent job growth, 20 percent of all veterans, age 20 to 24, are still unemployed, according to federal labor statistics. Careerbuilder.com reports that this value is three times the national average.
There are several obstacles to these veterans becoming employed. Employers have a lack of understanding of skills that veterans obtain while in the service, according to Careerbuilder.com. Seasoned veterans learning additional skills may also present challenges. For example, say a veteran is employed as a manager in a large profit center with direct reports and our veteran gets deployed serving as a company commander in change of over 200 soldiers. Upon their return, they may be in different jobs without the scope of their previous civilian and military positions and may seek positions with other companies similar to these previous job experiences.
Rich Fantozzi, National Guard veteran, told Careerbuilder.com, “It can be difficult to pinpoint military–friendly employers who are willing to take a gamble on an employee who can be deployed at any time and who will make available the same opportunities when he/she comes back.”