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Veterans may soon be allowed to use the GI Bill to start Business

Nearly 550 service members transition from military to civilian life each day, and an estimated 1
million veterans will settle into communities across our country within the next three to five years.
Only one-half of eligible veterans use their G.I. Bill benefit to pursue higher education or a
specialized training program or apprenticeship. Of those, only 48 percent actually complete a
program of study. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense spent more than $1.4 billion on
unemployment for former military personnel in fiscal year 2013.

While some veterans choose to use their G.I. Benefits to pursue higher education, more often
veterans are looking to enter the workforce. The VET Act proposes an innovative way to support
veterans in their professional development by offering veterans a choice in accessing the
resources, training and support they need to pursue the American dream to start a small business,
create jobs, and generate growth in our economy.

The VET Act establishes a 3-year pilot program that would enable up to 250 G.I. Bill benefit-eligible
veterans who apply to the program to start a new business or purchase an existing business or
franchise. The program would be overseen by the Administrator of the Small Business
Administration (SBA), in consultation with the SBA Advisory Committee on Veterans Business
Affairs and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The pilot program includes a thorough application process and requires participation in an approved
entrepreneurial training program. Interested veterans would be required to develop a business plan
to be approved by their training program advisor and the SBA’s Associate Administrator for
Veterans Business Development. Click here to read a full summary of the pilot program, selection
process, and terms of the grant process proposed by the VET Act.

According to a recent survey conducted by a veteran startup incubator, The Bunker:

Only 40 percent of survey participants have used their G.I. Bill benefit and, of those, only 12
percent completed three years or less of the program of study; An overwhelming 90 percent of the
veterans who participated would like to use their G.I. Bill benefit toward starting a small business;
and Nearly 95 percent would complete an entrepreneurial training program in order to utilize their
G.I. Bill benefit toward starting a small business.