Most Americans have recognized the valuable contributions of veterans and members of our military services ever since the founding of the Republic. What’s surprising to many is this: veteran entrepreneurial accomplishments also create tremendous economic value not only for themselves, but also for American cities and towns. Their leadership in the re-newel of American communities needs to be recognized and supported.

The contribution to the U.S. economy by veteran business owners is substantial. According to the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, veteran-owned small-businesses number approximately 3.6 million and produce about $1.7 trillion in U.S. gross domestic product.

In fact, according to the Office of Advocacy:

  • Approximately 22 percent of veterans in the U.S. household population were either purchasing, starting or considering starting a new business,
  • Almost 72 percent of these new veteran entrepreneurs planned to employ at least one person at the outset of their venture, and
  • Military service appears to have provided necessary business skills to one-third or more of both current veteran business owners and those planning to become owners.

Challenging more veterans to imagine themselves as successful small business owners and helping them to understand how important this mission is to their future, and to the prosperity and security of the United States, is a vital task. Nevertheless, it is an important one.

Since the founding of our Republic, veteran contributions have been significant. In those early times, most towns had a volunteer militia to protect life and property. Importantly, Revolutionary War veterans contributed political and economic leadership to the development of the young nation at all levels, perhaps most importantly, at the grassroots.

The U.S. needs more entrepreneurial veterans to formulate vision and not only promote physical security, but to advance economic security.

The Congressional decision to grant land rights to these veterans fulfilled government policy in three ways: it compensated veterans for their dedication to liberty and to support the country’s independence, it increased the odds that the country’s western edge would to be settled, protected and developed, and it supplied the U.S. Federal Government with revenues. During fiscal year 1836, federal land sales delivered 48 percent of all federal income.

Since the landing of the Puritans, the United States has been an entrepreneurial initiative. And veterans have always been at the forefront of this experiment. They bring many leadership qualities, including the ability to assess risk, formulate plans, and most notably, to take action. Veterans typically understand the vision of the founding generation, have supported the country in many ways, and continue to make individual sacrifices supporting an idea that is larger than they are.

In this difficult economic environment, the United States needs more entrepreneurial veterans and service members to formulate vision and not only promote physical security, but to advance economic security.

Veterans come from all across the United States, own businesses in every economic sector, and are comprised of men and women who reflect America’s ethnic diversity and many political persuasions. But they are unified in their effort to maintain a free, strong and prosperous America. They also contribute and benefit from an America that offers an opportunity for the expression of personal initiative and individual judgment that comes from owning a small business.

Veterans have been bound together by honor, tradition, mission and country and have had to trust and depend upon on one another in a way that most 21st Century citizens have not. This relationship has provided them with a perspective that is unique and important in the entrepreneurial community. It’s crucial that we support them.

This is the second article of The American Entrepreneurial Challenge Series.

James Wilfong
About The Author James Wilfong
James Wilfong is Chairman of Innovative Applied Science. He also is an international business practitioner, educator, Veterans business advocate, public servant, and a member of VET-Force and the President’s Task-force on Veteran’s Business Development.

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