Ed. Note: This article was first published on SBA.gov
Today, more than 250,000 service members are transitioning each year from the military to civilian life. These men and women are proven leaders and they have the skills and experience needed to be outstanding business leaders. Veterans over-index in entrepreneurship. One in seven veterans are self-employed or small business owners, and about one quarter of veterans say they are interested in starting or buying their own business.
That’s why all across the Administration we are focused on making sure that these brave individuals have the tools and resources they need to succeed.
In his speech to the VFW in Reno, President Obama highlighted the valor and the sacrifice of our nation’s military. And the important role that we have as a nation in making sure that these men and women are able to seamlessly transition back into their communities.
At the Small Business Administration, we’ve made assisting veteran’s one of our top priorities. With the help of SBA, veterans like Chase York, an Army vet of the Afghanistan conflict, started a lawn service business in New Mexico. Chase is having incredible success, landing seven contracts in the last seven months and he has plans to expand into state and federal government contracting. Our Veteran’s Business Outreach Center helped Christine Zika, an Army/Air National Guard service woman grow her St. Louis based consultancy to $60,000 in contracts. And Chris Nolte started a business designing websites after serving in Iraq. Working with SBA, he has successfully grown his hobby to a full-scale business.
And we are doing our part to live up to the vision President Obama has laid out for the administration. In fact, two weeks ago I was in Quantico, Virginia to announce a pilot program called “Boots to Business.” The program focuses on training talented men and women of our transitioning military, equipping them with the tools and support they need to make the transition from dedicated service members to successful business leaders. The pilot program will kick off on four military installations including Quantico, Virginia; Cherry Point, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and Twenty-Nine Palms, California. This builds on the great work of our Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Development Centers, Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers, SCORE and our existing public-private partnership with Syracuse University which serves certain military populations including women, service-disabled veterans and military families and reservists. Boots to Business expands this entrepreneurship training to all 250,000 service members moving from active duty to civilian life.
We know America’s veterans have a history of reshaping our national economy. They helped build one of the longest periods of economic growth in our country’s history. President Obama and the entire administration believe that armed with the right tools, we can help these amazing men and women realize their potential as entrepreneurs and small business owners. And working together, we can and will win the future they bravely fought for.
Karen Mills is the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.