With high rates of unemployment at home, the 250,000 U.S. service men and women that return each year are coming back to an employment atmosphere that is challenging. Private sector groups and federal agencies have teamed up to open a new avenue for our hard working military members with programs that look to train veterans in how to open their own business.
Military service men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering even higher rates of unemployment than the rest of the country. Last year the unemployment rate for veterans was 12.1% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. President Obama then issued 2 joint task forces to help battle this problem. This year veteran unemployment has decreased to 9.5%, in June, which is lower than last year’s, but still higher than the average unemployment rate.
One of the results of the joint task forces was Operation Boots to Business which is a program that trains exiting and recently discharged marines how to start their own businesses. The funds from existing programs that help veterans transition into civilian careers are expanding into the Boots to Business program. “We already had folks in the room with business ideas,” stated Mike Haynie who helped to design the programs and was present at the launch on July 12th. Boots to Business is operating at four Marine bases and may expand to other armed forces in 2013.
Other programs are also entering the ring such as the Patriot Boot Camp which is being sponsored by TechStars. This camp is being held for veterans who are interested in starting their own technology companies. Google is also hosting a program, in August, for small business owners who served in the armed forces in San Diego. Many of these companies recognize the skills that veterans return home with and with veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan numbering around 2.6 million there is a need to transition them into the civilian workforce. As Prediculous co-founder, Taylor McLemore, states, “They’re an underutilized resource that we as a country have a responsibility to support. A big part of providing these programs is providing more control over [returning military members’] own work and business lives.”
Abbott, Kate. “A Boot Camp for Veterans to Learn Business Basics,” Policy, Small Business. Bloomberg Businessweek. 7/12/12. (7/13/12). http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-12/a-bootcamp-for-veterans-to-learn-business-basics