New SBA Program Will Help Transitioning Service Members Create Jobs Through Business Training

Since taking office, President Obama has worked to ensure that the talented men and women of our armed forces have the tools they need to thrive and help create an American economy built to last.

That commitment is evident across the administration -- from First Lady Michelle Obama's program for military families, Joining Forces, to efforts to ensure that veterans have the medical care and job opportunities they need to succeed when they return home.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is building on those efforts with a new program for transitioning service members that will encourage entrepreneurship as a career option as they leave active duty. As the daughter of a veteran and Chair of the President's Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, I am proud to launch the program -- Boots to Business -- in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Veteran's Affairs and Syracuse University.

Veterans Make Excellent Entrepreneurs

American service members manage assets and equipment worth millions of dollars with unparalleled diligence, pride and discipline. Their skills and experience make them natural leaders and a large percent later become entrepreneurs. In fact, over nine percent of veterans start or purchase a business once they return home.

And the ripple effect of their entrepreneurial spirit is evident in the rate of small business ownership across the nation. Currently, there are over two million veteran entrepreneurs employing close to six million people across the nation. Their entrepreneurial endeavors are another form of service to this country, helping to drive economic growth and provide other Americans with jobs.

Business Education for Transitioning Military

Boots to Business is a public-private partnership that builds on a collaboration the SBA currently has with Syracuse University, providing transitioning service members with nuts and bolts training materials to help start their own businesses. The instruction process includes in-person classroom training on entrepreneurship that leads to the creation of a business plan. Additionally, participating in the program will bring each veteran into SBA's network, helping to create a life-time counseling relationship.

We just kicked off a pilot at four bases: Quantico, VA; Cherry Point, NC; Camp Pendelton, CA; and Twenty-Nine Palms, CA. Prior to this launch, our partnership with Syracuse served certain military populations including women, service-disabled veterans and military families and reservists. Boots to Business expands this entrepreneurship training to all 250,000 service members moving from active duty to civilian life.

At the SBA, fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship is central to our mission. We already have a number of programs designed to support America's veterans. And remaining steadfast to our commitment to veterans is one of President Obama's top priorities, having declared "No veteran who fought for our nation overseas should have to fight for a job when they return home." Working together, we'll provide the necessary tools our veterans need to thrive, create jobs and fulfill their dreams.