They served and fought on our behalf. They devoted years of their lives and many endured repeated deployments. Now is our opportunity to help them in return. 26% of returning veterans are not looking for a job or a degree: they’re looking to get into business for themselves, and we should all be contributing in one way or another to help. We can help returned vets build new lives and thrive as they launch new business and grow their piece of the "American dream" in these tough economic times.
Imagine the impact it would have if millions of experienced business people individually stepped up and did just one thing, like mentoring, coaching, investing, creating strategic partnerships, making introductions to contacts and connections to help further an enterprise, donating or discounting equipment or materials, office space, and so much more that might be needed. What a powerful thing it would be to show our gratitude in this way and pay it forward to help support local veteran entrepreneurs in our towns and neighborhoods all across the country. Imagine if the rest of us were to make a point of buying their products and services and do whatever we can to help give them a leg up.
This is a serious problem and we can't wait for policies to solve it. Every month thousands of returning veterans arrive stateside to confront a stressed economy and meager job prospects. Veterans have a 25% higher unemployment rate than the general population, and it’s trending in the wrong direction. It’s our responsibility to foster the success of these people who have subjected themselves to the rigors and sacrifices of military service on our behalf. And when things are not going well, it’s our duty to do more. Many Vets come home to personal financial troubles. Those who owned homes often have fallen behind in their mortgage payments. In the current era, policy makers in many respects sacrifice the nation’s warriors to “benign neglect.” “Thank you for your service” is not enough, we can all do our part to create a successful and secure future for veterans and their families. Helping them to start businesses not only helps veterans but helps increase job growth and spur further economic recovery for us all.
The perfect Win-Win!
So as we continue to write about entrepreneurial veterans over the next year for the ASBDC, we’ll focus on how ordinary people are reaching out to help veterans launch and grow their businesses. If you’re an entrepreneurial veteran who’s been helped, or a citizen with a success story to share about how you are helping out, please leave a short comment below. We would love to hear your story. It may also help inspire others to pay it forward in ways they may not have ever thought of.
This is a golden opportunity to build not only a more successful and prosperous country, but also to weave closer communities through gratitude and support.
Ruth. E. Hedges is the creator and CEO of Fundingroadmap.com. and Starups Across America. She has been featured in the New York Times, on ABC’s Home Show, and the Financial News Network did a two-part series on her for their show entitled ‘American Entrepreneur’.
For more information please visit http://fundingroadmap.com and http://www.startupsacrossamerica.com/SAA/