Early Focus on Entrepreneurship Would Pay Dividends When Veterans Transition

Many veterans possess the critical personality characteristics, leadership traits and technical skills required to be successful entrepreneurs, but they leave the military unprepared to pursue the challenges associated with starting a new business.

To better prepare service members to become entrepreneurs, DOD should provide them the necessary stepping stones needed to successfully transition to business ownership starting at the beginning of their service, according to a commentary in Stars and Stripes.

One step is teaching service members the importance of financial flexibility, not only increasing savings but also minimizing monthly payments for a car or home, write J. Michael Haynie, Syracuse University’s vice chancellor of Veteran and Military Affairs, and Douglas McCormick, a former active-duty Army officer and co-founder of HCI Equity.

Another component is helping service members to better use the tools of financial literacy to build wealth.

Finally, members should be taught how to “marshal all of the resources available to them when they transition to civilian life.” A veteran’s transition business plan would help separating members leverage their skills, GI Bill benefits, transition assistance support, entrepreneurship training, disability payments, and small business and home loan programs.

“With so many veterans struggling to transition to civilian employment — and likely more on the horizon — the military must empower service members with the knowledge, skills and strategic planning to successfully start and grow their own businesses,” Haynie and McCormick write.

An emphasis on entrepreneurship not only supplies veterans with a way to support themselves after their service, it also promotes the culture and skills required to prepare the military for future challenges.

“Empowering [service members] to become entrepreneurs preserves the social contract our nation makes with these soldiers by supporting them on the battlefield and when they return,” they conclude.

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