An estimated 1 million vets will become unemployed over the next half decade.
The unemployment rate for veterans remains higher than that of men and women who never served in the military. And, since the U.S. military is downsizing (someone is a few rounds short of a full mag!), it stands to reason that more veterans will find themselves unemployed in the very near future. In fact, it is estimated that one million veterans will become unemployed over the next half decade. The unemployment rate for veterans should not be so damned high. Men and women who have served our country are on average far more capable than their civilian counterparts to assume a job and keep it. There are myriad programs both on the state and federal level that seek to get companies to hire veterans hired. Recently, however, I came across 1 Vet at a Time, (1VAAT), a program whose mission consists of “solving the problem of veteran unemployment in America by helping entrepreneurial vets start their own businesses,” according to their website.
Background on 1 VAAT
1 Vet at a Time is a non-profit 503 (c) (3) organization founded by Charles “Lynn” Lowder and co-founded by Dale Eisenberg in 2014. The organization is based in Leesburg, Virginia where Lowder and Eisenberg tirelessly work to help entrepreneurial veterans start businesses. At the present time, 1VAAT is seeking to change the archaic G.I. Bill to allow more veterans to start small businesses, with Lowder teaming up with Marine Lt. Col. Joe Plenzler to formulate a blueprint to alter the post-9/11 G.I. Bill in order to allow veterans who choose not to attend college to use their education benefits to be used as collateral for a business endeavor.
How it would work
If Lowder and Plenzer are successful is obtaining changes to the G.I. Bill (and Capitol Hill is listening), veterans who opt not to attend college but have an entrepreneurial spirit would be able to receive the approximately $186,000 that the G.I. Bill provides to veterans that attend college for four years. This is the approximate cost for tuition, books and a housing allowance.
As with all quality programs or proposals, Lowder and Plennzer have thought the proposed changes through carefully. To that end, veterans who choose not to attend college but nevertheless had a desire and a knack for business would have an opportunity to become business owners. To this end, veterans would have to:
- A business plan would have to be written, scruntinized and endorsed by an independent board of business professionals.
- An interested veteran would additionally be required to attend an intensive 8-week, 3-part, boots-to-business course through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
- Subsequent to satisfactory completion of the course, veterans would then apply for an interest free loan to be repaid within 10 years for their start up money.
Advocacy groups and veterans organizations are working hard to provide veterans with a leg up so as to combat high unemployment rates. 1VAAT is a move in the right direction. Run by U.S. Marines, 1VAAT has momentum and considerable backing. Our men and women who have served proudly and who are seeking to run a business of their own deserve an opportunity to become entrepreneurs. Currently, veterans own 9% of all businesses in the United States. If Capitol Hill can come together for veterans on this proposed change in the G.I. Bill, I am confident that veterans can make it work for their benefit.