As more than 1 million servicemen and women prepare to return home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next five years, the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, created by President Obama, has issued a report to the president that cites 18 recommendations with significant potential to help these returning veterans translate leadership, skills and experiences gained during service into strong, job-generating businesses post-service.
Syracuse University’s veteran entrepreneurship programs the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) and Operation Endure & Grow are cited in the report as model programs and best practices to help veterans start and grow businesses in order to create jobs the U.S. economy needs now. All three programs were founded at the Whitman School of Management and are operated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF).
The Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development consists of seven federal agencies—the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget— and four veterans’ service organizations.
In April 2010, President Obama called upon the SBA to chair this interagency task force, to ensure his commitment to supporting the strengthening of veteran-owned small businesses is reflected across the government. The group is charged with coordinating efforts to improve opportunities and access for small businesses owned by veterans and service-disabled veterans in areas including capital, federal contracting, counseling and business development tools and services.
Based on working group analysis and public comment over the last year, including feedback from the veteran community, the task force recommended in its report three key priority areas for action:
- increased opportunities for growth;
- improved and expanded counseling and training services; and
- reduced barriers to growth and improved coordination and efficiencies.
The report states, “In sum, America has both an unquestioned responsibility and a compelling incentive to empower veterans through entrepreneurship, enabling them to become successful small business owners. This Task Force strongly believes that serving veterans who are—or who want to become—small business owners is crucial to America’s overall job creation, economic growth and competitiveness in the world economy.”
“We have a moral obligation to the American citizens who have put on a uniform and pledged to defend this country. We are honored that the interagency task force and leaders in our government have acknowledged Syracuse University for its endeavors in entrepreneurial education, training and support to help our nation’s veterans facilitate a successful and meaningful transition to civilian life,” says Mike Haynie, IVMF executive director, Barnes Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Whitman School of Management and an Air Force veteran.
“I am thrilled that the EBV, V-WISE and Operation Endure & Grow, educational programs in entrepreneurship for veterans founded by the Whitman School, are once again being recognized on a national level for the vital post-service training and support they offer our nation’s military members. We are proud of the accomplishments of our program graduates and that Whitman and the University continue to take the lead in higher education in meeting the needs of servicemen and women as they make a meaningful transition into civilian life and the marketplace,” says Melvin T. Stith, dean of the Whitman School and an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.
“The University’s portfolio of entrepreneurial education programs focused on veterans and military family members, like those acknowledged in this important report to the president, enable returning servicemen and women to make their transition in the most American way possible, through small business ownership and by creating opportunities in the national market place, further strengthening our nation’s economy,” says Tina M. Kapral, IVMF director of education programs. “We are honored that SU programs like the EBV, V-WISE and Operation Endure & Grow can serve as national models.”