The stories of modern day veterans coming home to nothing brings back memories of Vietnam where they were not hailed as heroes but instead ignored and left to fend for themselves with nothing. It may not be as severe for the veterans returning from the Middle East today but one parallel exists between the modern day wars and the wars of the past: Veterans are returning with no means of earning an income. That may be changing thanks to a series of government incentives to award a portion of the Federal and state contracts to veteran owned businesses.
Anybody who owns a small business knows one main fact that keeps small business owners working long hours with little vacation time: When a small business has their doors closed, the customers go somewhere else and when that happens, it’s hard to get them back. For military personnel who had to leave their businesses to serve their country, when they returned their customers had gone elsewhere forcing many of these business owners to start from scratch.
CNN chronicled the story of Eric Steele who is the owner of a small business specializing in computer services. As a veteran, he uses his status to gain approximately 5% of his business from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It only makes sense, according to many. The VA is supposed to help veterans in the same way they helped their country. People like Eric Steele aren’t looking for free money. He provides a service and receives some of the contract money mandated and appropriated for veterans like him.
This renewed commitment to setting aside government contracts for veterans is not only being done voluntarily by governments across America but the Obama Administration is pushing it. He’s not only pushing for these mandate but also for tax credits for any business hiring unemployed veterans. And why wouldn’t they, argues Obama. Those who have fought in a war zone have the leadership skills and the presence of mind while under pressure to be big assets to any company.
Currently, 18 states have legislation that not only assist veteran owned businesses but also mandate a portion of their contracts be awarded to qualifying business who are owned by retired military personnel. Although this up from 12 states in 2008, veterans affairs proponents believe this isn’t enough. For now, though, President Obama is leading the charge for America to rally behind those who are returning home from being at war.