A Solution to Veterans’ Unemployment: Entrepreneurship

Instead of waiting for job offers, veterans are increasingly taking matters into their own hands and starting their own businesses.

Some 200,000 veterans are discharged from the U.S. military each year. Many can’t find work in our tough economy. They spend months looking for jobs that aren’t there. According to the most recent data, the unemployment rate for all veterans is 6.7 percent — and the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is 9.7 percent.

So why not become an entrepreneur?

After all, as part of their military training, many veterans have developed the perfect skills for being self-employed and starting companies. They are resourceful, have a taste for risk-taking, and live with a can-do attitude.

ABC News recently reported that nearly one in 10 small businesses are veteran-owned, and retired service members are at least 45 percent more likely than those without active-duty military experience to be self-employed, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

There are a variety of financial assistance programs available to entrepreneurial veterans. One program through the SBA is the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative. It makes loans of up to $500,000, backed by the administration's maximum guarantee.

I see what happens when veterans are out of work for a long time. Many end up losing their families and their homes and living on the streets. At Veterans Support Organization, we help veterans in need by providing them with jobs and housing, and by supporting veterans’ causes. But the ultimate solution is for them to find jobs within their fields.

Entrepreneurship is a great way for veterans to work at something they enjoy and support themselves and their families.

Richard VanHouten is the founder and CEO of Veterans Support Organization.