Under the proposed bill, veterans could get funding to start their own small businesses

WASHINGTON (GREAT, D.C.) — A large number of military members have decided to pursue a college degree through the GI Act, but a proposal from the U.S. House of Representatives could give veterans more options to decide their futures.

Congressman. Ben Cline (R-Va.) introduced a bill that would initiate a 3-year pilot program to enable up to 250 GI Bill-eligible veterans to receive training and grants to start a small business.

Read the Rep. Klein’s bill: Veterans Entrepreneurship Act

“So this bill would create a pilot program to help veterans start small businesses. Veterans get GI Bill benefits, which are three years and 36 months of college tuition. This type of support really helps veterans get their The education they get. This will give them another option, a way to continue to pursue their dreams, while giving them the opportunity to start a small business and give back to the community in a different way,” said Klein, who first introduced the bill last year. He hopes to get enough attention around the bill to pass the measure next year.

This Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2021 Veterans will be allowed to access resources through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and their GI Bill benefits.

  • The program requires an application process and participation in an approved entrepreneurship training program
  • Veterans must develop a business plan for approval by their training program advisor and the SBA Deputy Director of Veterans Business Development
  • Grants available to veterans participating in this pilot program may be equal to the maximum amount of GI’s 36 months of educational assistance at the GI’s benefit program’s effective rate per veteran
  • If approved, veterans can use the grant to open their own business or buy a franchise

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a great program, and if we can get through the first steps of the pilot program, it’s going to take off and become very, very successful,” Klein said.

Klein noted that he represents many veterans in Virginia’s Sixth District. He said the program would help veteran business owners gain a foothold when entering the market, given current economic conditions and inflation.

“Many of them (veterans) want higher education, and we have a lot of different opportunities in the Sixth District.” But, others don’t. There are a lot of people willing to start small businesses, and there are actually a lot of them. About 10 percent of small businesses are veteran-owned. But we need to give them more support as they try to launch these small businesses. It’s a way to really give a huge boost to veterans looking to start a small business,” he said.

Klein’s measure has bipartisan support. Congressman Lou Correa (D-Calif.) joined him in introducing the bill.

“Really, support for veterans is not partisan. It’s a bipartisan effort. So there’s also a bipartisan network of support behind it in terms of expanding opportunities for veterans,” Klein said. “So I’ve been talking to veterans who are members of the House and the chairs of the Veterans Affairs and Small Business Committees about this bill. Hopefully we’ll get enough buzz when Congress comes back next year. And, we can put it as one of the first bills we passed.”

U.S. Army veteran Perry “Ace” Taylor said he believed it was a “good idea.” He said he wished he had that option when he left the service.

Taylor worked as a computer specialist. He was deployed in Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula and Kuwait. He now works with multiple veterans organizations, including the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Services Organizations, the Roanoke Valley Veterans Council, and the American Veterans Association with Disabilities.

“Soldiers find the transition from active duty to separation or retirement difficult. They used to be managers and leaders in charge. Now, they are starting over at the bottom and they are fighting civilian life,” he said, adding that he It is believed that the program will allow ex-soldiers to use the skills they have acquired to take control of the next steps in their lives.

The plan has another key benefit, Taylor said.

“Veteran small business owners will hire more veterans, which could have a knock-on effect on veteran recruitment. Veterans help veterans. It will give our veterans a mission,” he said, later adding, “ It gives them the opportunity to have another tool in their toolbox. Another option.”

Taylor added that community members can also continue to support veterans in other ways by spending time with them, listening to them and talking to them. He delivered that message to families who may have veterans in their lives struggling to return to civilian life.

“You need to be a support network for veterans. You really do. I can’t stress enough. They really need that support. American veterans need your support. A real debt owed. A real debt America owes its veterans Debt. And, I say it wholeheartedly, because I care about that,” he said.

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