Want to start your Veteran-Owned Business?

two men shaking hands, one of them is in a suit, the other is in military uniform

The SBA offers support for veterans as they enter the world of business ownership. Look for funding programs, training, and federal contracting opportunities.

Devoted exclusively to promoting veteran=owned business & entrepreneurship, the Office of Veterans Business Development facilitates the use of all SBA programs by veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members, and their dependents or survivors.

SBA programs provide access to capital and preparation for small business opportunities. They can also connect veteran small business owners with federal procurement and commercial supply chains.

The Veterans Business Outreach Program is an OVBD initiative that oversees Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) across the country. This small business program features a number of success stories and offers business plan workshops, concept assessments, mentorship, and training for eligible veterans.

Find your nearest center

Funding for veteran-owned small businesses

You can use SBA tools like Lender Match to connect with lenders. In addition, the SBA makes special consideration for veterans through several programs.


Veteran entrepreneurship training programs

SBA programs feature customized curriculums, in-person classes, and online courses to give veterans the training to succeed. These programs teach the fundamentals of business ownership, SBA resources, and small business experts.

Continue on the sba.gov to read the complete article.

Manly Bands Partners with Jack Daniel’s and the Armed Services YMCA To Reunite Military Families This Holiday Season

Manly Bands wedding ring sitting on table with bottle of Jack Daniels in the background

Manly Bands recently announced their partnership with Jack Daniel’s on their Operation Ride Home program to help as many as 60 active duty junior service members return home for the holidays this year.

Manly Bands will be donating a portion of every sale from their Jack Daniel’s wedding ring collection to Operation Ride Home totaling up to $25,000.

Manly Bands is the most popular direct-to-consumer wedding ring brand for men and has been a licensed partner with Jack Daniel’s since 2020. The Jack Daniel’s Collection uses genuine aged barrels from the Tennessee whiskey with other unique ring materials such as carbon fiber, meteorite, dinosaur bone and more.

Operation Ride Home was created in 2011 in partnership between Jack Daniel’s and the Armed Services YMCA to help reconnect military families over the holidays. Since it was founded, Operation Ride Home has generated a total of more than $1.8 million in donations and sent a total of 8,583 individual junior-enlisted service members and their families home from all 50 states.

Over the years, Manly Bands has supported military families in many ways including donations to veterans and military families and distributing free silicone bands to active service members. Now, the company is looking to go further by donating up to $25,000 to help finance the cost of travel for US troops returning home.

“Manly Bands has always been a great supporter of our brave military personnel,” said Johnathan Ruggiero, co-CEO of Manly Bands. “This is a special time of year for love and hope, and we believe that there is no better way to share that than to honor the brave men and women who protect our country year-round by helping to bring them home for the holidays.”

The collaboration between Manly Bands and Operation Ride Home will commence on December 1st and run until the end of the month. Every ring sold from the Jack Daniel’s collection will go towards bringing active service members home for the holidays. More information can be found at manlybands.com/pages/jack-daniels-operation-ride-home to learn more about our partnership with Operation Ride Home.

About Manly Bands

Manly Bands is the fastest growing direct-to-consumer e-commerce retailer of men’s wedding rings. We make it easy for couples to order a ring that looks (and fits) perfect on every man. Our rings are crafted in more than 400 unique styles made from dozens of non-traditional materials, such as dinosaur bone, meteorite and authentic Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrel. We’re on a mission to give men the ring that they’ll never want to take off. To see our latest collections, visit ManlyBands.com today.


The Armed Services YMCA is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves currently serving military members and their families. In 2019, we engaged more than 225,000 people in our programs and delivered over 1 million points of services to junior enlisted Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and family members at 200 service centers in 18 states. Whether providing respite childcare for parents in need, summer camps for kids, or assisting with emergency needs, the Armed Services YMCA is a nonprofit with a mission: Strengthening Our Military Family. Visit our website to see how you can join us in supporting military families.

Unique opportunities: Five entry-level jobs at VA you might not know existed

woman working at VA meeting with veteran about benefits wearing face mask for social distancing

While you may immediately associate careers at VA with clinical roles and medical professions, there are a number of entry-level jobs that keep the wheels running smoothly.

Let’s take a look at five unique positions that you might not have realized are available on our team.

Administrative assistant

You’ll find administrative assistants in nearly every department at VA, working to assist administrative leadership and professional staff with clerical duties.
As an administrative assistant, you’ll have a healthy dose of responsibilities in your day-to-day work, as you’ll be integral to the smooth management of your department. Policies, budgets, fiscal management, personnel, logistics or even property management may fall to you in your daily duties.

Motor vehicle operator

Drive patient transport vehicles – including emergency vehicles, vans, buses and more – as a motor vehicle operator.

You’ll shuttle Veterans to and from VA Medical Center facilities, private health care facilities, Veteran’s homes or even railways, bus stations or airports. You might be called upon to operate cars, station wagons, vans, pick-ups and panel, stake or open-bed trucks.

In addition to driving, you will be responsible for the maintenance of your vehicles, both interior and exterior, keeping them in a clean and serviceable condition for your passengers. Inspecting your vehicles for wear and tear and reporting concerns to the appropriate department also falls under your responsibilities.

Prosthetic representative

A prosthetic representative helps provide prosthetic and sensory aids services to Veterans. They also work directly with Veterans and clinical teams to assist Veterans in applying for automobile adaptive equipment, home improvement and structural alterations, and clothing allowances.

You may also conduct home visits with other health care providers to assess a Veteran’s home for upgrades or equipment necessary to improving patient quality of life. Record-keeping is also a large part of the job, as you will be responsible for providing documentation management surrounding your efforts to assist Veterans.

Recreation therapist

Provide recreation therapy and diversional activities for the residents of VA’s Community Living Centers as a recreation therapist.

You’ll need a general understanding of the leisure needs of a variety of patient populations to evaluate the history, interests and skills of patients to establish better guidelines for individual projects.

You’ll also administer and interpret a wide variety of creative skills tests and interviews to evaluate mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical capabilities of patients. The ability to motivate others is essential, as you may need to encourage not only your patients, but those who assist you with the care of these Veterans, too.

Transportation assistant

A transportation assistant reviews and authorizes travel and lodging requests for Veterans traveling from their home to VA medical appointments.

As a transportation assistant, you may find yourself providing and coordinating transportation through VA resources or non-VA common carriers. You may also be making reservations for lodging for Veterans and their families, making sure all the necessary paperwork is complete to make their trip as smooth as possible.

Work at VA

Roles like these – whether administrativetechnical or support – may not immediately come to mind when you think of VA, but these roles are important to VA and the Veterans we serve. Browse these careers and more as your first step toward a career at VA.

NOTE: Positions listed in this post were open at the time of publication. All current available positions are listed at USAJobs.gov.

Military Veteran Finds Passion in Public Service: Meet NFBPA’s Demetrius Payton

NFBPA’s Demetrius Payton poses in uniform and additional headshot within the same frame

On March 30, 2022, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), the principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of black public leadership in local and state governments, will host its Annual Forum in beautiful Grand Rapids, Mich.

The four-day conference allows public service professionals to gain practical and transferable skills they can apply immediately. It was events like Forum that drew Demetrius Payton to the organization. Demetrius Payton (pictured) is a director of infrastructure & operations at CPS Energy.

CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally-owned energy utility providing both natural gas and electric service. Serving more than 840,750 electric customers and 352,585 natural gas customers in and around San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city. He is responsible for overseeing the Technical Services department, which includes the Infrastructure Server Team, Network Engineering & Collaboration Team and Data Center & Operations, which includes business process, compliance and patching.

Payton served 15 years in the United States Air Force Reserves. He was deployed during Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. Payton retired after 10 years from military service where he served as a commissioned officer in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Army Reserves.

Payton, who is originally from Leesville, La., holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Business from Wayland Baptist University. Payton also holds a Master of Arts in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University. In 2018, he completed the National Forum for Black Public Administrator’s Executive Leadership Program (ELP), a program dedicated to grooming African American managers for the rigors of executive positions in public service organizations.

NFBPA sat down with Payton to talk about his time in the service, challenges faced in civilian employment and inspirations:

How did the military prepare you for your career in local government?
The military allowed me to understand structure and protocol. The military also gave me stewardship experience with resources for our country. I have that same responsibility in my public sector career.

What were some challenges you faced in your career adjusting to civilian work?
I think the biggest challenge was around understanding all of the visibility and transparency required in this civilian job versus my military job. We have a Board and Senior Leadership Team that is required to approve capital procurement.

Three qualities needed to be successful in your role:
My role is director for infrastructure and operations, but I feel that a CIO has to be trustworthy, be able to communicate vision and set the stage for innovation in their organization.

Can you relate your military career to what you want to do next?
I think I always want to serve my community. I left a lucrative paying job in the private sector for an opportunity to work in the public sector. I feel like it’s my calling to serve others.

Who had the greatest influence on you growing up and in your career?
I had several influences that coached and mentored me throughout my military and civilian careers. But if I had to choose one individual, I would say it was my good coach Ralph Miles at the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence. He taught me things about being a good leader, a good teammate and a good human being.

Would you recommend local government after military life?
Local government and politics impact nearly every aspect of our lives. To me, going from the military to local government seems like a natural progression and a way for a member to impact their community.

What job in the military prepared you most for a career in local government / the public sector?
My last role in the military was Battalion S6 Security Officer.

If you could be or do anything else – what would you do or be?
Silly as it sounds, I would love to be an owner of a professional sports team. It’s been my dream since I was a little boy.

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?

Payton has been married to his wife, Michelle Payton for 32 years. They share three children and three grandchildren. He has been a member of his local church for over 34 years and his passion is fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

3 Tactics for Leveraging Your Military Career in the Private Sector

Soldier working on a laptop with US Flag in the background

by Ben Garrison

The ability to find moments of joy can be a key to professional success. I find this as a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Dungeon Master, and I found it to be true in my 14 years in the Army.

Today in the private sector, I get great satisfaction when I’m able to walk a peer through a tech challenge and empower that person in their use of technology.

With D&D, you don’t know how things are going to turn out — but the journey is the joy. With the right mindset, the same can be true with the not-always-easy transition from military to civilian life. This uniquely challenging process faces the approximately 8.5 million veterans in today’s workforce, including nearly half a million veterans who are currently seeking employment. Employers may not be well informed about how your skills are transferrable to the private sector. Veterans may be facing the challenges of PTSD or other mental health issues associated with their service.

Fortunately, drawing on parallels can help you move beyond the challenges. So, to my veteran peers who are looking to work in or who already work in the private sector, I offer the following three tactics for success in the civilian workplace.

1. Leverage the flexibility you learned in the military.
I spent 14 years in the Army National Guard. I was aware that plans — for an individual, for the military, for our country — change instantly.

Many businesses change rapidly, too. That’s certainly the case with technology and has absolutely been the case as all of us adapt to the ongoing changes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s strategy won’t necessarily be tomorrow’s strategy. This uncertainty can be stressful or jarring for some, but veterans have a certain kind of superpower that comes with understanding how to cope with and thrive in a shifting environment.

2. Learn continuously.
In the Army, as well as in IT today, processes and equipment changed rapidly. New active-duty assignments brought new training (and retraining) requirements. The Army also taught me how to take many things in stride.

Tapping into your natural curiosity can point you in the direction of professional success. In my case, wanting to know how things work helped lead me toward a career in IT — first in the Army, then in the private sector. Learning on the fly, always part of the military experience, is excellent preparation for the workforce.

Our economy and its drivers are undergoing rapid change. Key to individual success in the midst of it all: the ability to learn and grow. This can take many forms. Become familiar with best practices for your job search, such as how to optimize LinkedIn and other job boards. Dig into the benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA). Explore continuing education that will help you advance your particular career goals.

3. Communicate clearly.
In the military, when your supervisor needs information to make the right decision, you must be ready to provide your expertise efficiently and confidently — no matter your rank.

Interacting candidly with service members of all ranks and from all walks of life prepared me to communicate with teammates of all backgrounds. In the business world, you need to be as confident talking to your CEO as you are talking to any other colleague. Rely on your experiences to get your point across in a respectful way. Not only can this help you gain the ear and respect of senior staff, it will help you find the joy of personal “a ha!” moments when you deploy your expertise in a way that helps others.

The private sector presents new challenges and new opportunities. Remember: you’ve been in tougher situations. You can do this.

Following 14 years in the Army National Guard, Ben Garrison now serves as a Technical Evangelist for JumpCloud. He is a D&D Dungeon Master and player, and a self-proclaimed overall nerd.

Veteran Story Spotlight: Florida Panthers CEO Matthew Caldwell

MAtthew Caldwell Florida Panthers owner in an official construction hardhat

By Kellie Speed

Next summer, South Florida’s War Memorial Auditorium will be receiving a $65 million facelift, thanks to the Florida Panthers NHL team. When complete, the 144,000-square-foot venue will be transformed into a sports, entertainment and community recreation hub that will feature a practice facility with an NHL-regulation-sized indoor ice rink dedicated to the community for public skating.

“It’s an incredible project and hits on so many things we believe in,” said Matthew Caldwell, president and CEO of the Florida Panthers. “We wanted to find a way to continue to memorialize the site while also showing people a good time and have them keep coming out. We are in the live entertainment business, and the Panthers love giving back, but we wanted to keep the historic value of it.”

The privately financed revitalization will transform the 1950s-era entertainment venue into a new community recreation hub with a tribute to Broward County military heroes under the veteran-owned NHL team. “There will be youth hockey, figure skating and public skating available,” said Caldwell.

War Memorial Ground breaking crew“We currently run three sheets of ice in Coral Springs – one for the team and two are open to the public. It’s a great connection to the fans and the brand and encourages people to play hockey. This will be a copycat of what we do in Coral Springs but with the added element of live entertainment.”

After serving five years as a military officer conducting combat operations in Iraq and peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, Caldwell believes his military training helped prepare him with the skills necessary to become CEO and president of the Florida Panthers. “I think it goes back to West Point,” he said. “The military academy, the training I received and the school were all building blocks to helping me learn valuable leadership skills that can’t be taught overnight. If I didn’t have the military experience, don’t believe I would be as confident in my ability.”

MAtthew Caldwell in army uniform side-view shotDuring the course of his Army career, Caldwell was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal and a NATO Kosovo Military Medal.

As a veteran-owned team, honoring past and present military is at the forefront of the organization. From hosting a Military Appreciation Night each year to recognizing a military hero at each home game, Caldwell says he is most proud of their veteran-focused programs. “There are a lot of great things we have done, but I think the best thing is the heroes we recognize at our games with the “Heroes Among Us” Program,” he said. “When you are in the arena, there’s just something about the way we do it that is different. It’s within our DNA and everything we stand for. We interview the veteran and get to know them, bring their family out and show clips. It’s really well done. The veterans just feel it and it’s so touching and heartfelt.”

To see the latest project and construction updates, visit FTLWarMemorial.com or follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @FTLWarMemorial

How to Prepare for the Upcoming Tax Season

government tax form and pen with U.S. flag in background

The coronavirus pandemic led to some temporary changes in tax laws. Most changes apply to the general public, but some have special implications for the military community.

Even within the military, the changes will not have the same impact on everyone. So, it is important to know your circumstances and adapt to the reforms and changes in a way that reflects your finances and lifestyle.

COVID-19-related changes

Provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act may affect your 2020 federal income tax return in the following ways:

  • Expanded advance child tax credit:As part of the American Rescue Plan to help Americans recover financially from the pandemic, the child tax credit for 2021 was expanded to $3,600 for children under the age of 6 and $3,000 for children 6-17 years old. Eligible families will automatically receive monthly payments from July 15 through December 2021, totaling half of the credit. Families may claim the other half of the credit when filing their 2021 tax return.
  • Retirement account withdrawals:The 10 percent tax penalty for an early withdrawal from a retirement account has been suspended in 2020 for those who suffered financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Economic Impact Payments:You should have received a $1,200 Economic Impact Payment in 2020 ($2,400 if you are married), plus $500 for each qualifying child. If you did not, or if you received less than the amount for which you were eligible, you may claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your federal income tax return.
  • Charitable contributions: To encourage giving in 2020, the CARES Act allows taxpayers to deduct up to $300 in cash donations to eligible charities without itemizing the contributions.
  • Unemployment benefits:If you are a military spouse who received unemployment benefits in 2020, you will receive a form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, that states your unemployment income and any income tax withheld. Be sure to report this information on your tax return.
  • Social Security payroll tax deferral:Social Security taxes were deferred for service members from mid-September through the end of December 2020. The deferred Social Security taxes will automatically be taken from your wages from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2021, so will not affect your 2020 income tax filing.

Key tax reforms

Picture your financial and personal events over the last year. Perhaps you are looking forward to having your first child. Maybe the ink just dried on the paperwork for your new home. Take a look at these key reforms and see if they will affect your spending and family circumstances:

Standard deduction: For tax year 2020, the standard deduction is $12,400 for singles or those who are married but filing separately, $24,800 for those who are married and filing jointly and $18,650 for those who file as the head of household.

Personal exemption deduction: Beginning in 2018, you can’t claim a personal exemption deduction for yourself, your spouse or your dependents. This may impact decisions on the itemized deductions and dependents you claim on your tax return.

Itemized deductions: Beginning in 2018, the following changes were made to itemized deductions that taxpayers can claim on Schedule A:

  • Your itemized deductions are no longer limited if your adjusted gross income is over a certain amount.
  • You can deduct the part of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
  • Your deduction of state and local income, sales and property taxes is limited to a combined, total deduction of $10,000 ($5,000 if married and filing separately). As a military member, your state of legal residence and the state in which you own a home will determine how much this change impacts you.
  • Under the new rules, unreimbursed business expenses, including auto, travel, meals, entertainment and home office expenses, are no longer deductions.
  • For debt incurred after Dec. 15, 2017, the deduction for home mortgage interest is limited to interest on up to $750,000 ($375,000 if you are a married taxpayer filing a separate return) of home-acquisition debt. This new limit doesn’t apply if you had a binding contract to close on a home after Dec. 15, 2017, and closed on or before April 1, 2018. The prior limit would apply in that case.
  • Beginning in 2018, you cannot deduct interest on a home equity loan or line of credit unless it’s for buying, building or making substantial improvements to your home.
  • The limit on charitable contributions of cash increased from 50 percent to 60 percent of your adjusted gross income. However, for tax year 2020 only, the limit is 100 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Child tax credit: With the exception of the temporary expansion of the child tax credit for tax year 2021, as of 2019, the maximum credit is $2,000 per qualifying child. The maximum additional child tax credit is $1,400. Also, the income threshold at which the credit begins to phase out is now $200,000 ($400,000 if married and filing jointly).

Credit for other dependents: A credit of up to $500 is available for each of your dependents, such as an adult child with a disability or an elderly parent who does not qualify for the child tax credit. In addition, the maximum income threshold at which the credit begins to phase out has increased to $200,000 ($400,000 if married and filing jointly).

Education: As a result of the new tax codes, you can use funds from your 529 education savings plan to pay for private K-12 educational expenses at secondary public, private or religious schools with a limit of $10,000 per student per year.

Reserve service members: Reserve service members are able to deduct unreimbursed travel expenses to attend drill duty only if it takes place more than 100 miles away from home.

Moving expenses: Members of the armed forces can still deduct moving expenses as long as the move is part of an authorized permanent change of station or PCS. If you’re voluntarily moving, you will join most other taxpayers in no longer being able to deduct moving expenses from your taxes.

Deployments to the Sinai Peninsula: If you previously served in the newly designated combat zone, you may qualify for retroactive tax benefits. If so, you’ll need to submit an amended tax return, or Form 1040X, for the year in which you were there, dating to 2015. You generally have three years from the date you filed your previous tax return to claim the refund.

Alimony or maintenance payments: If you make alimony or maintenance payments, you will no longer be able to deduct them from your taxable income, and the recipient will no longer have to claim the payments as income. This went into effect for any divorce or separation agreement signed or modified after Dec. 31, 2018.

Estate tax exemption: The estate tax exemption for 2020 is $11.58 million, so an estate valued at less than the new threshold will not be taxed when the owner dies.

Investment fees: You can no longer deduct investment fees from taxes. If a major part of your financial strategy includes investments, and you have substantial investor fees, you will be paying more in taxes.

Penalty for not maintaining minimum essential health coverage: Beginning in 2019, the penalty amount was reduced to zero.

Source: MilitaryOneSource

7 Great Side Business Ideas for Veterans

man wearing a hard hat smiling with a U.S. flag in the background

Every year, over 200,000 United States veterans return home from combat. If you’re one of those people, you’re likely feeling bittersweet.

On the one hand, returning to civilian life opens doors for your career, but on the other, it’s a huge lifestyle adjustment that will take time.

Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone wonder, “what should I do with my life?” If you’re a calculated risk-taker, entrepreneurship could be your answer.

Let’s dive in.
Open a private security firm
If you make decisions quickly and like working alone, a private security firm is a natural fit for you. As a private security contractor, you’ll be responsible for defusing and deescalating high-risk situations: something that already comes naturally to veterans. There are two simple ways to get started with private security. You can either contract work from larger security firms or offer your services to malls, businesses, schools and councils in your area.

Become a franchise owner
Is leading people one of your strengths? Then you’re fit for franchising. Owning a franchise is an easy way to start a retail business (provided you start with some capital, of course). Unlike new businesses, franchises already have a customer base and a product line when they open, as they leverage the services offered by the parent business. As a fresh franchise owner, all you need to do is manage the business: something your military past has trained you for.

Work as a government contractor
If you’re still interested in government work but want to be involved in a role that extends beyond the office, you should consider a contracting role. The United States government contracts out enormous amounts of logistics work, including IT work, network security work and administrative work. The government is mandated to contract out 3 percent of those services to veterans like you. If you’re interested in contracting, check out the Small Business Administration’s Boots to Businesses development program.

Get into the personal fitness industry
Very few people leave the military with zero personal fitness knowledge. Just because you no longer serve doesn’t mean your fitness skills are out of date. Leverage those skills, and you can make people fitter while building a business.
There are many ways to start a personal fitness business. You could recruit clients with a letterbox campaign, contract through a private gym or even create a fitness Instagram to show off your skills. Whichever way you choose, keep it unique to you. People are mostly drawn to personality (though they like muscles, too).

Work as a tech consultant
If you’ve got great tech skills, then you’ve got a golden ticket to a great career as a tech consultant. There are many ways to work as a tech consultant — from doing tech audits to running virtual mentoring programs that let you share your skills with small businesses and teams.
To find your client base, ask yourself two questions:
1. What skills do I have?
2. Who needs skills?
Once you’ve found your client base, the next steps are straightforward. Simply build your website, put together a pitch that clients can’t resist, work hard and put yourself out there.

Consider health-care advocacy and emergency services
When weighing up potential side business ideas, never discount your experience. As a veteran, you have a unique perspective invaluable to hospitals, universities and healthcare organizations working with veterans. If you love working with people, take that knowledge and build a business that teaches organizations how to help. You could even become a consultant for veteran services, helping new and injured veterans navigate through the complexities of post-service life. Just don’t forget to brush up on those calendar management skills before you start juggling clients.

Become a workplace trainer
As a veteran, you’re likely an expert in managing challenges like work-life balance, changing sleep cycles and routine shifts. As Americans take over 460 million work trips a year, you could build a business by teaching people how to manage their work lives on the move. If you love group settings, you could even use your knowledge to help businesses build skills-based Employee Volunteer Programs (EVPs).

Why Veterans are Great at Business
According to the American census, veterans own 7.5 percent of 5.4 million businesses. The reason for this is simple: the military teaches skills most business owners have to learn the hard way like self-sufficiency, leadership and the ability to perform under pressure. If you’ve already got those skills, you’ve got some of what it takes to run a successful business. All you need to do now is take one of these ideas and make it work for you.

Source: Score

Best Funding Sources for Veteran Entrepreneurs

unrecognizable african american man typing on laptop keyboard

By Eric Goldschein
Few things go together better than veterans and entrepreneurship. Many of the traits that veterans develop during their service — drive, commitment, accountability, organization — help them become effective business leaders when they come home.

This isn’t news to veterans: According to the SBA, one in four post-9/11 veterans wants to start their own business. They understand how effective they can be as business owners. The hard part is obtaining the funding to start, and grow, their ventures.

Anyone who has explored the concept of starting a business knows how crucial startup and working capital funding is to a business’s prospects of success. Without enough funding, businesses can’t cover cash flow gaps, make smart investments or scale efficiently to meet rising demand.

While bootstrapping your business is a noble goal, there comes a point where your personal savings won’t be enough to keep your business afloat until it is profitable.

If you’re a veteran seeking additional funding, the following options are your best bets.

Loans for Veteran Entrepreneurs

Business loans are a common way for business owners to obtain financing. There are a variety of loan products available on the market today, from traditional term loans to lines of credit to credit cards.

Here are a few business loan options that are particularly good choices for veterans to explore:

1. SBA loans
The SBA has a number of loan programs, in which the federal agency partially guarantees bank loans to small businesses. The SBA 7(a) loan and the SBA CDC/504 loan are both popular loan programs that offer long term loans, at low-interest rates, to highly qualified business owners.

SBA loans are not exclusively for veteran business owners, but the SBA Microloan program disperses loans through community lenders, many of which seek to fund disadvantaged entrepreneurs, including veterans. If you are a new veteran business owner who needs up to $50,000 in startup funds, there may be no better loan on the market than an SBA Microloan.

Additionally, the SBA’s Military Economic Injury Loan program is available to current and veteran military reservists whose small businesses were negatively affected when they were called into active duty. If you fit this description, you can use this low-interest loan to get things back up and running upon your return.

2. StreetShares
StreetShares is a lender that is owned and operated by veterans, with a mission of funding business loans for fellow veterans. They do this by connecting veteran business owners with investors who can fund loans for up to $100,000.

The application process is fairly quick, and turnaround on a loan can take as little as one business day.

3. Online lenders
It can be difficult for small businesses to qualify for a bank loan without the help of the SBA. In recent years, a new type of lender has emerged: Online lenders, which provide funding more quickly and readily (i.e. with less stringent application processes) than banks and credit unions.
If you have an immediate funding need, or your personal or business credit is lacking, a loan through an online lender may be the solution. The repayment terms will be less generous — higher interest rates, less time to repay the loan — but it can be a good first loan option for veteran entrepreneurs.

4. Franchise-specific Funding
Companies such as UPS, 7-Eleven and Little Caesar’s provide special benefits and discounts to veterans seeking to open a franchise under their banners. This can include points off the initial franchising fee, discounts on equipment orders, free marketing supplies and more.

Equity Financing for Veteran Entrepreneurs

Another avenue for securing financing is to offer equity in your business in exchange for funding. If you have major funding needs (typically more than $1 million), are comfortable giving up part ownership of your business and seek advice and mentorship along with financing, equity financing may be the way to go.

You can connect with equity investors and venture capitalists on your own, or seek equity financing through several veteran-focused organizations:

• Hivers and Strivers: Entrepreneurs that graduated from a military academy can get early-stage investments from this angel investment group.
• Veteran Ventures Capital: A combination investment fund and consulting firm that assists businesses with veteran leadership.
• Task Force X Capital: A B2B technology investor focused on veteran entrepreneurs.
• 1836: This venture makes direct investments in veteran-owned businesses that operate in the lower middle market, focusing on companies in Texas and the Gulf Coast.

Grants for Veteran Entrepreneurs

Understandably, many entrepreneurs are interested in the concept of free money to invest in their business. That’s why business grants are so sought-after.
There are a few business grant programs specifically for veteran business owners. They include:
1. VetFran Business Grant Fund
Veterans who open franchises through the IFA VetFran program will also qualify for a $10,000 grant, which you can use in conjunction with other funding.
2. USDA Veteran and Minority Farmer Grant
Small business grants through the Department of Agriculture’s 2501 Program are available to veterans opening agricultural operations.
3. StreetShares Commanders Call Veteran Business Award
Along with their loans, StreetShares offers a $5,000 grant to veterans or military spouses who own their own businesses.
There are also a number of non-veteran-specific small business grants that you can explore, offering various amounts of funding that veterans may qualify for, including:
• Rural Business Enterprise Grant
• FedEx Small Business Grant
• Eileen Fisher Grant for Women
• Chase Mission Main Street Grant
• Visa Everywhere Initiative
• LendingTree’s Small Business Grant Contest
• Wells Fargo Community Investment Program


It’s also worth mentioning that crowdfunding has grown into a legitimate option for many business owners seeking additional capital. You can use reward- or donation-based crowdfunding, as well as equity and debt crowdfunding.

Develop a campaign and goal for mainstream sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, or use veteran-focused platforms such as MilitaryStarter, or Help Fund A Veteran. The stakes are relatively low — if you fail to make your goal, just try again or move on to other options.

Not every veteran with dreams of opening their own business does so — and a lack of funding is often the reason why. Don’t let financing issues stop you from pursuing your dream business and putting your skills to work for your community and society-at-large. Look into one of the above options and see what works for you.

Source: Score

How Being a Veteran Has Helped Me in the Tech Field

Alexis Blakes stands with arms folded in confident pose smiling

By Alexis Blakes

Discipline, leadership, teamwork and consistency. Regardless of when or how long you served in the U.S. military, you have displayed and witnessed these four key skills.

From the belly of the motor pool to the theatre of combat, these skills guide the actions of all service members and leaders so routinely that it often becomes second nature — heavily influencing the execution of both minor and major missions. These skills were instrumental in shaping and preparing me for both my career path and personal growth within the technology field, and it all starts with the defining principle.

Discipline Is Resolute

A defining principle is the primary objective that you are in pursuit of. The defining principle of a mission could be as conceptually simple as seizing the high ground or complex as mitigating operational mission costs. In either regard, the defining principle should be clear, concise and adaptable.

During my four-and-a-half-years on active duty with the U.S. Army, I was privileged to serve under leaders who exhibited profound foresight concerning mission objectives, and this in turn nurtured my ability to adapt to changes, anticipate problems and execute directives under unfavorable conditions. In the military, this once meant an unplanned five klick convoy movement around an endangered tortoise in the dead of night. But these days it looks more like maintaining operational capacity and availability of approximately $1 billion worth of data center cloud computing hardware and equipment during a potentially devastating wildfire season.

I’ve found that being a service member has put me at an advantage at work because nearly everything we do in the military — from maintaining living quarters in the barracks to traveling home on leave — requires a thorough plan, defining principle and discipline in execution. As a data center lead at Amazon Web Services, my defining principle is to promote the safest, most effective and cohesive environment possible for my team and this guides my actions daily. Discipline is resolute — even when motivation or morale may not be.

Real Leadership is a Commitment to the Team

While discipline is foundational, leadership and teamwork are supplemental. Both in tech and in the military, I was and am a member of a team. You might be a fast solo runner, but in formation you’re only as fast as the slowest runner, and that is an incentive to help others improve. Sometimes there are shared goals that can only be achieved together.

From pride to privilege, real leaders make sacrifices for others and lead from the front. Accepting this as truth, I try to embody this principle in my work. No task is beneath me. I have days where I’m back to doing physical repairs myself and days where I’m giving classes. My service taught me that leadership is more than being in charge. Sometimes this has meant stepping up to the plate in the absence of a superior and doing work outside of my role. If my team stays late, I stay late. If my team has a grievance, I have a grievance. If you want to go far, we go together. My commitment to the totality of the team even played a role in my promotion. Valuing my team members and assisting them makes the work that I do that much more rewarding.

Consistency is Showing Up, Every Single Day

Being a squared away soldier is a sum of many smaller habits executed every single day. Being consistent creates routine which promotes flow. If you maintain positive habits then you will reap positive returns. I still lay my clothes out the night before, show up 15 minutes early to work, conduct roll call and send out end of day updates to my team. Over time I have trained other leads to do the same. It’s important to show up every single day — including when it’s hard or even when you just don’t feel like it. Tech changes daily and you need to keep the same fire in your belly to keep up and excel. More than a career choice, it’s a lifestyle of curiosity and constant self-improvement.

As it stands, I believe that being a veteran has shaped my experience in tech for the better and given me the tools I need to navigate an ever-changing career landscape. From the moment I clock in to the moment I clock out, I call on my military experiences to assist me in my work. As I reflect on my military service, I can honestly say that I am better prepared for the tech field because of it.

Alexis Blakes is a lead data center technician at Amazon Web Services and an Army veteran who served as Nodal Network Systems Operator/Maintainer. She is also a second-year college student at Columbia Basin College.

Becoming a Verified SDVOSB and DVBE Business Program Details

business man and woman in office giving a high five

SDVOSB: Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business – This is a term used by the federal government to designate a company that is owned (at least 51 percent) and controlled by a veteran with a Service-Connected Disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The business also must qualify under the SBA’s Small Business Standards for their particular industry.

DVBE: Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise – This term is used by the State of California, public utilities and many private corporations to designate a company that is owned (at least 51 percent) and controlled by a veteran with a Service-Connected Disability rating of at least 10 percent from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, the veteran must reside in the state of California.

If the definitions of SDVOSB and DVBE above sound very similar, that’s because they are. However, there are some very key differences in the requirements:

  • SDVOSB requires a VA Disability Rating of 0 percent, while DVBE requires a VA Disability Rating of 10 percent.
  • DVBE requires the veteran to live in the State of California.
  • SDVOSB requires the business to meet the federal small business requirements for their industry.

SDVOB/DVBE Certification Information

“Certification” is a term that gets used frequently in the small business world, but is often misunderstood. The goal surrounding certification is two-fold:

  1. Help you determine if certification is right for your business. While we generally recommend getting certified, ultimately, it may not be necessary for your business needs.
  2. Help you find your way through the certification process. Certifications range from “self-certification” where you check a few boxes, all the way to full-blown audits of your business filings and financial information.

Is Certification right for your business? Depending on the customers you are trying to reach and the products/services you provide, certification may or may not be right for you. A good place to start is to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do large corporations or government agencies purchase my goods or services?
  • Does my company have the necessary insurance, bonding and administrative capabilities to perform work for the government or large corporations?

If you answered “YES” to these questions, getting certified will likely open up new opportunities for your business.

Finding your way through the Certification Process: If you plan on doing business with the federal government, being certified as an SDVOSB can open many set-aside contract opportunities for your business. The Federal SDVOSB certification comes in two parts:

  1. Self-Certification via SAM (System for Award Management): If you are a service-disabled veteran who owns at least 51 percent of your company and controls day-to-day operations, you can self-certify online by selecting the correct representations and certifications in your profile at SAM.gov. It’s that easy.
  2. CVE Verification via the Department of Veterans Affairs:This certification, also known as “Verification” requires the business owner to submit many business and personal documents including tax returns (3 years), Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes and various other documents in order to verify that the service-disabled veteran actually “owns and controls” the business. If you want to do business with the VA or take advantage of the “Veterans First” legislation, you will need to complete this process. For more information, please visit va.gov for more information.
  3. DVBE Certification:If you and your business are located within the State of California and you have at least a 10 percent Disability Rating, you may qualify for the Department of General Service’s Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) program. This is a valuable certification if you are looking to do business with state agencies or public utilities. For more information visit caleprocure.ca.gov/pages/sbdvbe-index.aspx.
  4. New York State SDVOB Certification:The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act allows eligible veteran business owners to get certified as a New York State Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB). The 6 percent goal encourages and supports eligible SDVOBs to play a greater role in the state’s economy by increasing their participation in New York State’s contracting opportunities. This program is open to all SDVOB’s nationwide. For more information visit ogs.ny.gov/veterans.

Source: VIB Network

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Upcoming Events

  1. Joint Base San Antonio Veteran Job Fair
    December 16, 2021
  2. NatCon 2022
    January 6, 2022 - January 8, 2022
  3. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  4. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022
  5. CCME Annual Symposium
    February 7, 2022 - February 10, 2022