The VA Offers Resources For Entrepreneurs, But Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Are Vanishing

After 1945, half of all American World War II veterans eventually became entrepreneurs. That number has since sharply dropped. Only 4.5 percent of more than 3.6 million post-9/11 U.S. military veterans have launched a company, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 allows the VA to favor veteran-owned businesses for most contracts under $5 million; made way for a database of small businesses owned and controlled by veterans and the veteran owners of such businesses, and prohibits other small businesses from misrepresenting themselves as being owned and controlled by veterans.

It’s supposed to help veteran entrepreneurs thrive, but that’s becoming more and more difficult.

Far fewer veterans today are entrepreneurs than were after World War II.
Far fewer veterans today are entrepreneurs than were after World War II.

The New York Fed’s report on veteran entrepreneurship shows that veterans are now underemployed compared to non-veterans, though nearly of quarter of returning vets would like to start businesses. The challenge for many veterans is the lack of a strong business or personal network with which to begin their new ventures. Because they’ve been away and typically relocate fairly often, a lack of social resources can be a barrier to entrepreneurship.

Veterans can face significant barriers to owning their own businesses.
Veterans can face significant barriers to owning their own businesses.

Veterans are resourceful, innovative and more likely to be self-employed than nonveterans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. in 2015, the unincorporated self-employment rate for veterans was 7.1 percent, compared with 6.4 percent for nonveterans. Among veterans, the highest rates of self-employment were recorded by those who served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era; unincorporated and incorporated self-employment rates for these veterans were 15.3 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively. By comparison, Gulf War era II veterans—who have a much younger age profile—recorded lower rates of self employment: 2.4 percent were classified as unincorporated self-employed, and 2.1 percent were incorporated.

The Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 is supposed to help veterans overcome barriers to entrepreneurship.
The Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 was passed to help veterans overcome barriers to entrepreneurship.

Among some of the most famous veteran entrepreneurs in recent years are Phil Knight, founder of Nike; Frederick Smith, founder of FedEx; Jack Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car; and Paul A. Sperry, of Sperry Shoes. Where they have led the way, far more have a chance to follow with the help of assistive programs backed by the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006.

Our veterans have sacrificed so much They deserve our support as business owners.
Our veterans have sacrificed so much They deserve the VA’s support as business owners.

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