The unemployment news among veterans isn’t all bad. But while jobless rates are improving, former soldiers still face a bigger struggle landing employment than non-veterans.
Case in point: a recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the unemployment rate to be 6.8 percent among younger veterans, compared to 5.7 percent for the nation as a whole. Fortunately, a lot of people are working to solve this problem.
The 2011 “Hire Our Heroes” act required government agencies to come up with classes to help military veterans transition to civilian careers. One program that grew out of this mandate is Boots to Business, a training program that guides veterans through the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. Many are already benefiting from these classes, such as the more than 60 veterans hired by the MGM Grand Detroit (which has a Boots to Business program with the American Red Cross).
Rozell Blanks Sr., vice president of human resources at MGM Grand Detroit told Matthew Gryczan of Crain’s Detroit Business that when a company hires a veteran, “What you get is an individual who has high integrity, a high sense of honor and who wants to do their very best…I can’t think of a more difficult job than one that requires you to put your life on the line, and it’s not for a whole lot of money. So you’re talking about highly skilled, highly technical, well-disciplined individuals who tend to excel quickly in an organization.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families want to extend the program’s reach even further by offering Boots to Business: Reboot. Through it, free, two-day seminars will be held at dozens of sites across the country during July and August for veterans interested in starting their own businesses. Recently, a Reboot was held in Washington, D.C. in a very special building: the White House.
If they choose, vets can supplement the two-day Reboot program with eight weeks of online classes. At the end of those lessons, soldiers should know how to come up with a good idea for a small business, write a business plan, identify people and organizations that can help them and be able to launch the business.
Ray Toenniessen, Managing Director of Development and External Relations of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University said in a press release, “We know veterans make the best entrepreneurs and we know veterans hire veterans, that’s why IVMF and the SBA are so committed to training and educating veterans about entrepreneurship and small business ownership.”
According to the United States Census Bureau, veterans owned 2.4 million businesses in the U.S. in 2007 — that’s 9 percent of all the companies in the country. And those vet-owned businesses employed 5.8 million people, generating $1.2 trillion in receipts. With the downsizing of the military, now sounds like a great time to keep the veteran-owned small business trend rolling.