Thank you to all our veterans!

1—Help for Vets from Facebook and SCORE

According to the U.S. Census, veteran-owned businesses represent 9.1% of all U.S. businesses (for a total of 2.52 million businesses), employing 5.8 million people and generating $1.14 trillion in annual revenues.

By its sheer size, Facebook has a huge number of veterans and active military members on its platform. The company says more than 900,000 people in the U.S. participate in over 2,000 groups for military, veterans and their spouses on Facebook.

Last week Facebook announced two new initiatives for helping veterans:

  • The Military and Veterans Hub:a resource for military and veterans to help them continue to build their communities, find job opportunities and enhance their digital skills through Facebook.
  • Partnership with SCORE:Facebook is teaming up with SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer expert business mentors, to offer education and mentoring to America’s veterans, military spouses and their families hose who dream of becoming entrepreneurs through a mentor match program, veteran-focused educational toolkit and workshops.

The partnership between SCORE and Facebook includes:

  • Mentor Match Portal connecting military members and veterans with a cohort of SCORE’s experienced business mentors who are also U.S. veterans.
  • Veteran-Focused Educational Toolkitfor launching a business, including step-by-step guides and business planning resources.
  • Veteran-Focused Interactive Workshopsin-person workshops in 10 cities Facebook has determined to have a high concentration of military members and veterans. SCORE’s veteran mentors will be available to all attendees post workshop for continued guidance through all stages of startup and growth.

“Veterans are uniquely qualified to become successful entrepreneurs, given the skills they have learned during their military service. They tend to be hardworking, strong teammates, and creative problem-solvers,” says SCORE CEO Bridget Weston. “Combining those skills with SCORE’s educational resources and business mentoring is a recipe for business success. We are proud to use this program to give back to America’s veterans, who have already given so much to our nation.”

Payton Iheme, U.S. Public Policy Manager at Facebook and a vet herself says, “Veterans and the military use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family. Now, we’re introducing a Military and Veterans Hub to support this community and help them find job opportunities and enhance their digital skills. Our partnership with SCORE will provide veterans and their families with the business education and experienced mentoring they need to start or grow their business.”

I asked Iheme some questions about the new program.

Rieva Lesonsky: Why did Facebook decide to start this now?

Payton Iheme: Facebook already had resources available for veterans including our Military recruiting page and the Jobs Tool. By creating the Military and Veteran Hub, we’re making it easier for veterans to find and access the resources they need in a consolidated place. We’ve curated the hub to contain specific resources and tools for Veterans to build their community, find job opportunities or enhance digital skills through Facebook.

Lesonsky: Does that 900,000 number represent people who use Facebook today who are or are connected to vets?

Iheme: This number represents the number of Facebook users who are connected to a Facebook Group specific to veteran or military topics. We’ve found these users are typically veterans themselves, currently serving, or are a spouse or family member of a military member.

Here are a few of the groups we’re talking about:

Lesonsky: What will be in the Hub? You mention resources to help them find a job? How will that work?

Iheme: The hub will provide online safety tips, links to our resources for finding jobs and information about upcoming digital skills training through our partnership with SCORE.

For example, Frank Diaz, an Army veteran and owner of Tin Hut BBQ, uses the Facebook Jobs Tool to source employees at his mobile restaurant with an objective to hire displaced veterans in need of work and mentorship. So far, he’s been able to use the Jobs Tool to connect with dozens of disabled or homeless veterans and help them gain stability and skills to move onto other opportunities in the workforce. The Military and Veteran Hub will make it easier for Frank and other veteran entrepreneurs to connect with and continue to support those who have served the country.

In addition to supporting veteran entrepreneurs and small businesses, we’re also testing a 12-month career development pilot program for veterans with a background in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science in order to help us solve global challenges. We also currently offer a Military Skills Translator to help people find Facebook careers relevant to their military experience.

Lesonsky: Why partner with SCORE?

Iheme: Facebook is excited to partner with SCORE on this initiative as it is one of the leading organizations with a network of volunteers and experts in support of America’s veterans, military spouses and their families. As a veteran, I went through the SCORE program when transitioning into civilian life, it helped me and my husband, who is a small business owner, build the confidence and access to tools and education that helped us both find new careers using our existing skills and experience.

Click here for more information on veterans’ entrepreneurship and for free educational resources that help veterans start successful small businesses.


2—Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program

Veteran entrepreneurs who are transitioning back to civilian life and need help kickstarting or growing their businesses should look into the Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program (VELP) from Bank of America. The program offers access to affordable loans, training and mentorship opportunities.

Since the program began in 2018, its helped connect more than 170 veterans to $14 million in affordable loans. Some of the businesses that have benefited from the program include:

  • Topping Designs, a therapeutic outlet for its Army veteran founder and an inclusive fashion brand supporting women across all walks of life from its home in Wheat Ridge, CO.
  • Green Teens, kickstarted by a Navy veteran and his two children, supports its Owasso, OK community by collecting, organizing and transporting recyclables to processing facilities.
  • So Natural Cateringis run by a veteran husband/wife duo, which provides healthy food options through their catering business in Harker Heights, TX.

“Each year, more than 200,000 veterans make the transition from military to civilian life,” says Sharon Miller, Head of Small Business, Bank of America. “As these service men and women consider their options for the next stage of their careers, many see an opportunity to translate their skills learned in the military to starting their own businesses. In fact, the Small Business Administration reports that one in ten veterans owns their own business, and veteran-owned firms employ an estimated 5.8 million individuals.”

Miller continues, “Bank of America is proud to support these veteran business owners through our Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program. Obtaining access to affordable capital is critical to any business owner. Through this program, veterans are able to not only gain access to capital through our Community Development Financial Institution partners, located all over the country, but also take advantage of technical assistance, training and networking opportunities, specifically tailored to meet the needs of returning veterans.

And for veterans who may be looking for traditional loan options, Bank of America recently announced that U.S. veterans are also eligible for the new Bank of America Small Business Veterans Discount Initiative, which offers an exclusive 25% origination fee discount on many Bank of America small business loans and lines of credit.”


3—Guide to Starting a Business for Veterans

Knowing that returning to civilian life after even a brief military career can be incredibly difficult, has created a free, comprehensive guide for veterans who want to start a business.

You can access the Veteran’s Guide to Starting a Business at their website.


4—Best Companies for Veterans

Monster and, working with veteran employment experts, have identified the  “top 10 employers demonstrating extraordinary success in veteran hiring and retention.”

“The companies on this year’s list are the best of the best when it comes to veteran hiring,” says Scott Gutz, CEO of Monster, which “together with is the premier recruiting solution provider for veterans and employers in the United States.”

The 5th annual Monster’s 2019 Best Companies for Veterans list celebrates companies that offer stellar veteran hiring, onboarding, and retention programs.

  1. DynCorp International
  2. Intelligent Waves, LLC
  3. CACI
  4. American Systems
  5. LMI
  6. PRISM
  7. MSA Security
  8. S. Customs and Border Protection
  9. IntelliDyne, LLC
  10. AbleVets, LLC

The list—which crosses IT, government, security, and consulting—is based on nominations by veteran hiring experts and self-reported data from the nominees on hiring and onboarding practices, with a focus on percentage of 2019 hires that were veterans and total percentage of the workforce composed of veterans. For each of the winners, at least 23% of new hires in 2019 are veterans and 19% or more of their workforce are veterans.

Three of the companies—DynCorp International, Intelligent Waves, and AbleVets, LLC—are veteran-owned.

Resources to strengthen veteran hiring efforts

Monster and hosted a webinar last week exploring why hiring a vet is critical to businesses, how to kick-start your veteran recruitment strategy, and the best practices for veteran onboarding with insights from some of the top companies on the list. The conversation can be accessed here.

Read more about the winning companies.


5—SBA’s Boots to Business Program Reaches 100,000 Participant Milestone

The U.S. Small Business Administration says more than 100,000 current and aspiring veteran business owners have participated in the Boots to Business training course since the program began in January 2013.

“The SBA is all about powering the American dream. This is no different for the veteran business community,” says Larry Stubblefield, Associate Administrator, Office of Veterans Business Development.

The Boots to Business program provides entrepreneurial education and training to transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses (including members of the National Guard and Reserve) via the U.S. Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program.

The program is administered as a collaborative effort between SBA district offices and resource partners, which include Veterans Business Outreach Centers, Women’s Business Centers, SCORE, America’s Small Business Development Centers and grant partners.

The SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans, members of the National Guard and Reserve, and military spouses start, grow and expand their businesses annually.

Flag stock photo by Sergey Kamshylin/Shutterstock