Want to start your Veteran-Owned Business?

two men shaking hands, one of them is in a suit, the other is in military uniform

The SBA offers support for veterans as they enter the world of business ownership. Look for funding programs, training, and federal contracting opportunities.

Devoted exclusively to promoting veteran=owned business & entrepreneurship, the Office of Veterans Business Development facilitates the use of all SBA programs by veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members, and their dependents or survivors.

SBA programs provide access to capital and preparation for small business opportunities. They can also connect veteran small business owners with federal procurement and commercial supply chains.

The Veterans Business Outreach Program is an OVBD initiative that oversees Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) across the country. This small business program features a number of success stories and offers business plan workshops, concept assessments, mentorship, and training for eligible veterans.

Find your nearest center

Funding for veteran-owned small businesses

You can use SBA tools like Lender Match to connect with lenders. In addition, the SBA makes special consideration for veterans through several programs.


Veteran entrepreneurship training programs

SBA programs feature customized curriculums, in-person classes, and online courses to give veterans the training to succeed. These programs teach the fundamentals of business ownership, SBA resources, and small business experts.

Continue on the sba.gov to read the complete article.

Testing My Mettle to Earn My Medal: A Ragnar Trail Experience

Heath Hansen and buddy kneeling on ground holding an Airborne flag

By Heath Hansen

November 1st, 2017, I get a call from my buddy – my buddy rarely calls me; when we communicate, it’s through text messages. “What’s up, bro?” I asked. “Hey, my Ragnar teammate just got called for duty, he can’t make the race. We need a runner.” I didn’t know what a Ragnar Race was, but the name sounded interesting and I accepted the invitation. “Oh yeah, one more thing, every person on the team was in the Marine Corps. You and me are the only Army vets.” “Great.” I sarcastically replied.

I decided to read up on the Ragnar Race. The info revealed I had nine days to train for a race that required roughly 14 miles of running on my behalf. The race was located at the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, a 25,000 acre preserve in the middle of Southern California mountains, and would occur over the course of two days. The terrain would be treacherous – up and down mountains, patches of thick vegetation and rocky paths. On top of this, I wasn’t a runner – in fact, I hated running, with a passion. Luckily I did CrossFit workouts regularly and had a pretty clean diet. At least I wasn’t starting from rock bottom.

The next day I decided to go for a four mile run near my house in south San Diego. It sucked, but I finished without stopping and maintained a pace of about 8 minutes per mile. The next two days I was extremely sore, but managed to do a few more short runs leading up to the 10th of November.

On race day, we arrived at the venue and I realized the scale of a Ragnar Race. There were over a thousand people present across the area. We arrived at the campsite and made our way over to the team tent. Between the 8 of us, there was a broad age (and fitness) range. I knew I would perform above average, but still wanted to crush this competition. Every single one of them had Marine Corps tattoos. Being a former paratrooper, I knew I had to prove myself. They didn’t care whether I had time to train or not, this was still about inter-service rivalry and finding out who was the best. I extended my arm and shook each of their hands. “Hey, you know what ARMY stands for,” one of them asked? “Aren’t Really Marines Yet,” the dumbass laughed. “Do you know what USMC stands for,” I asked him. He looked at me quizzically. Pointing at him, I said, “U Suck My Cock,” and smiled. I wasn’t going to be the weakest link among a bunch of crayon eating Jar-Heads; the race had begun.

We would all be running a total of three legs during the competition, and, collectively, covering about 114 miles of trail. In between legs, we would have about eight hours of downtime to hangout in the team area, rest, eat and hydrate.

My first leg was starting – 8 miles. The hill I was climbing seemed to never want to end. I knew ascending for this long at a running pace would burn up my lungs quickly, so I took my time. It kept going, and going, and going. After what seemed like an eternity, I made it to the top and got back on a faster, longer stride. During my descent, I gazed off onto the horizon, the mountains looked incredible. The scenery made this one of the most gorgeous runs I had ever been on. As I progressed further, the sharp pain in the arches of my feet made it apparent that they needed some attention. I made my way down the mountain and found the finish line. Once there, I handed off the electronic tracker (to log our progress) to the next runner. He seemed surprised by how soon I had made it back. There were about eight hours left before my next section of the trail would begin, so I made my way to the first-aid tent to get checked out.

Heath Hansen running through camp with large backpack on
Heath Hansen during Ragner Race

I arrived at the tent and waited behind about half a dozen other competitors who also needed some work. Once they got to me, the paramedics were happy to help me out with the blisters that had formed on both of my feet. After disinfecting the sores, they patched me up quickly with moleskins and I was back on my way again, heading towards the campsite.

Once at the encampment, my buddy and I decided to grab some dinner from one of the Ragnar sponsors. From pizza, to potatoes, to pasta, we had a large selection to choose from; I decided to load up on carbs with pasta and meatballs. The meal was delicious and gave me plenty of energy for the rest of the race.

My next leg started at about 9 PM and was roughly three miles. Compared to the eight miles I had finished a few hours earlier, this felt like a walk in the park. It was nighttime, so my body temperature remained cool the entire time and I kept a fast pace throughout. I made it back to the finish line and headed to the team campsite for some rest. My next leg would start at around 6 AM. I sat under the team tent and talked to a couple of the guys who were preparing for their next part of the run. In between taking swigs of water and snacking on trail mix, I got to know a few of them pretty well. After a while, I walked over to my camping tent, got into the fart sack , and caught up on some sleep.

“Hey, Heath, get up, it’s almost time for your final leg,” my buddy uttered. I could barely move. Every muscle in my body was sore, my feet were swollen, and I had a headache. I didn’t want to do the last leg – just over three miles. But I had to prove myself and I knew all of my teammates were counting on me. “Let’s go, Army. Pain is weakness leaving the body,” one of the Marine veterans jabbed. Slowly, I slipped my shoes on and made my way to the fire (at Ragnar Village) near the starting line. Near the flames, I stretched and got myself limbered up for the last bit of this race. It was going to hurt, but I was going to do it. I was going to finish.

Heath Hansen
Heath Hansen

My teammate handed me the sensor as he finished his leg and I was off. The blisters on my feet ached and made every step excruciating. It reminded me of my time as an infantryman in Afghanistan, making my way up and down the mountains, regardless of how much it hurt. On deployment, I focused on the next step, every step, and just kept going. With this mindset, I maintained my pace for this final leg and tried to concentrate on the goal instead of the pain. Eventually, I could see the tents and the fire again. I was almost there. I made my way closer and closer to the finish line. I could see my team – all of them. They had made their way to the finish line to cheer me on. I had finished. It was over. I was done.

We walked back to the tent. It was now November 11th, 2017 – Veterans Day. We were all former servicemen and decided to celebrate the holiday, and the race, with a beer. There was no longer a sense of rivalry, we were just friends trading war stories about difficult spots on the trails we had just conquered. I was glad I had come out and helped these guys. The team, Los Chavos Del Ocho, made it all worth it. When I got home that night, knowing that I had not stopped a single time on the trail and kept a consistently fast pace, I slept better than I had in months.

A few weeks later, my buddy told me the final results of the race had been posted. Out of dozens and dozens of other competitors, our team had finished third overall in our division. He handed me the medals we had won as a unit – our effort had paid off, and my Ragnar experience was complete.

Heath Hansen was an airborne infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division and is a former police officer. After serving combat tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq he left the Army and received his B.S. in Business Financial Services at San Diego State University. He now resides in San Diego and travels extensively in Europe.

Help wanted amid coronavirus pandemic: These companies are hiring

close up of man slloking at smartphone with laptop open on desk

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, major companies are looking to ramp up their workforces to meet the demand for critical products such as food, household essentials and medical supplies.

Some of the nation’s largest retailers are even scrapping traditional hiring methods in order to fill open positions as the virus takes a foothold in every corner of the world. This demand for more workers in some sectors comes after early estimates suggest that at least a million workers could lose their jobs in March.

Since the outbreak, the number of jobless claims has surged as many businesses are forced to close their doors

Here are some of the companies that are hiring as the world continues to fight the spread of COVID-19:


The convenience store chain is looking to hire anyone in need of a second job or who need to pick up extra hours of work.


Albertsons is hiring to fill positions immediately. There are well over 1,000 positions listed on its career page.


Batavia, Illinois-based grocery chain Aldi’s said in a statement that they’ve hired “nearly 7,500 employees and we are continuing to hire more each day.”

The company currently has nearly 5,000 openings. While most are based in retail stores, there are a handful of openings in specialized fields such as human resources, public relations, and IT.


Amazon is seeking to fill 100,000 new full- and part-time positions across the U.S.


CVS Health is looking to immediately hire 50,000 full-time, part-time and temporary roles across the country.

Dollar General

Dollar General plans to add up to 50,000 employees by the end of April.

“As the heightened demand for household essentials offered by Dollar General stores continues across the country amid COVID-19 concerns, the Company plans to nearly double its normal hiring rate and add up to 50,000 employees by the end of April as it continues to diligently work to support customers’ needs,” the company wrote in a statement.

Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree is looking to hire 25,000 individuals to support its stores and distribution centers nationwide.

“Whether you are home unexpectedly or are just starting your career, we have a broad range of positions to fit your needs and availability,” Betty Click, Dollar Tree’s chief human resources officer, said in a statement.

The positions include full- and part-time managers at more than 15,000 locations. There are also flexible part-time shifts for cashiers and stockers. Positions in the company’s distribution centers include order fillers, equipment operators and warehouse associates, Dollar Tree said.


Domino’s will be hiring 10,000 employees nationwide.

“Our corporate and franchise stores want to make sure they’re not only feeding people, but also providing an opportunity to those looking for work at this time, especially those in the heavily-impacted restaurant industry,” CEO Ritch Allison said in a statement.

General Electric Healthcare

The company plans to hire additional manufacturing employees to produce more medical equipment, including ventilators, in order to meet the demand created by the coronavirus pandemic.


Instacart announced Monday that it will hire an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers across the United States during the next 3 months to meet customer demand for online grocery delivery and pickup because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today, we have more shoppers on the Instacart platform than ever before. Given the continued customer demand we expect over the coming months, we’ll be bringing on an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers to support cities nationwide,” the company said in a statement. “As more people look for immediate, flexible earnings opportunities during this time, we hope that Instacart can be an additional source of income for those looking to earn while also delivering for the communities in which they live.”


The global discount supermarket chain is hiring up to 1,000 temporary employees across its stores and distribution centers in the U.S. for a minimum of two months.

New hires without health insurance will be eligible for medical benefits covering testing and treatment related to COVID-19 at no cost, the company announced.

“Every day, our number one priority is the health and safety of our customers and our team, and that is our primary focus during this public health emergency,” Lidl US Chairman Roman Heini said. “The new positions announced today will help us better meet the unprecedented needs of our customers. We are working hard to serve them and protect the health of our employees who are playing a critical role.”


A spokesperson from Lowe’s confirmed to FOX Business that the company will be hiring 30,000 positions that will be a mix of full-time, part-time, overnight and seasonal roles for displace workers seeking short-term opportunities. The home improvement retailer is also offering special one-time bonuses of $300 for full-time workers and $150 for part-time workers.


The Kroger family of companies is looking to add 10,000 workers in stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers nationwide, a Kroger spokesperson told FOX Business.

Candidates may apply via on the company’s website and could be placed for employment within several days of applying, the company said in an emailed statement.

Papa John’s

Papa John’s is looking to hire up to 20,000 new restaurant team members.


PepsiCo will hire 6,000 new, full-time, full-benefit frontline employees throughout the United States in the coming months, the company announced.

“With COVID-19 reshaping the way we run our business and live our lives, it’s important that we acknowledge the people keeping us steady during turbulent times, notably the heroic work of the millions of doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals around the world,” PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta said in a statement. “At the same time, there is important work being done in other sectors, including our own, to help maintain the supply of foods and beverages.”

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

Related: Disabled American Veterans Virtual Career Fairs

Mission Roll Call Launches Social Media Campaign for Military Veterans to Connect During COVID-19 Crisis

woman veteran searching online with her laptop on table

Crowd-sourced video series will empower veterans to maintain supportive communities as social distancing practices continue

Mission Roll Call recently announced the launch of “Be A Leader,” a new crowd-sourced social media video series that will empower veterans, their families and caregivers to virtually connect with each other and share their experiences during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Content shared using the #MRCBeALeader hashtag on social media will highlight stories and advice from veterans to encourage personal growth, optimistic communities and responsible behavior in the months to come.

“With a wealth of experience handling critical and stressful situations in a calm, positive manner, military veterans are ready to lead by example in this time of uncertainty,” said Garrett Cathcart, executive director of Mission Roll Call. “This campaign will give all veterans an opportunity to share how they are checking in on their buddies, entertaining their families, and staying active so others will be inspired to do the same as the nation continues to practice social distancing.”

In addition to videos created and shared by followers of Mission Roll Call’s social media channels, the series will feature insights and words of encouragement from individuals such as Medal of Honor recipients Sal Giunta and Clint Romesha, as well as retired NFL player and U.S. Army veteran Nate Boyer.

The “Be A Leader” campaign is an extension of Mission Roll Call’s goal to provide veterans with a platform where they can make their voices heard on the key issues impacting their lives. Mission Roll Call is a program of national nonprofit America’s Warrior Partnership that has connected with more than 535,000 veterans, family members, caregivers and advocates since launching in 2019.

Veterans and community members who wish to participate can post content and follow the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the #MRCBeALeader hashtag and tagging @MissionRollCall.

About Mission Roll Call

Mission Roll Call is the first-ever movement of its kind — one dedicated to giving every veteran a voice in advocating for the issues that are important to them. The program created a digital community where veterans, their families and caregivers can make their voices heard. Veterans can share their stories through comments on our social media pages and respond to online polls about the most urgent issues facing veteran communities. These messages, views and insights are delivered directly to policymakers and civic leaders with the goal of enacting lasting, positive change.

For more information, visit MissionRollCall.org. Mission Roll Call is a program of America’s Warrior Partnership. America’s Warrior Partnership is a nationally recognized nonprofit with a Platinum Guidestar Seal of Transparency.

Source: America’s Warrior Partnership

My Journey from the Army Reserves to Starting My Dream Company

group of business people working together on an engineering project laid out on a table

By Crystal Xie

My name is Crystal Xie. I’m the president and founder of Crystallogy Engineering, a construction management and engineering design-build company. I enlisted in the Army Reserves when I was 17 years old, still a junior in high school.

Since then, I have done a tour of combat deployment in Iraq in the very beginning of OIF, completed three degrees while working full time, worked as an aerospace engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during Mars Science Laboratory build, and lead an R&D team at a major blue-chip company to develop patented technology, before finding my true calling in the form of starting and running my own company five years ago.

I have had more than a few detours and bumps in the road in my journey thus far; however, it is not immediately apparent that I have had the great fortune of standing on the shoulders of giants, organizations and mentors, without whom I would never be who I am today. So, it is my great honor and privilege to be able to give back to the veteran community and share some of my triumphs and struggles to help you to get to where you want to be a little faster.

I will start with what I consider the most important question before starting a business, or any career for that matter. We often are good at talking about what we do, in terms of communicating with potential clients and others in our lives. The question we negate to ask ourselves is, “why do we do what we do and how does it relate to others, to our family, clients and community at large?” I encourage you to take a moment to think about what motivates and invigorates you in your everyday life. Is it the opportunity do something you can do really well with skill and mastery? Is it the social aspect of working with others closely and build a network? Is it the ability to be close and flexible in your schedule so you could maximize your time with your family? For me, I love solving problems, helping others, and building a close-knit community that thrives over the years. So, it’s almost no surprise I became an engineer, got into consulting to help clients solve a variety of problems, and feel immensely blessed to be able to grow the company so we could help train the next generation of project managers and engineers.

How about you? Do you enjoy the technical aspects of delivering products/projects (working in the company)? Or do you enjoy solving systemic problems, building relationships and teams (working on the company)?

If entrepreneurship is your true calling as well, I’d like to share a few things that worked effectively in launching and growing my business. One of the barriers of starting your own business without the banners of a large organization is credibility. I’m a certified project management professional and a licensed professional engineer, and certifications not only help in drumming up business but also in guaranteeing quality in project delivery, which reduces client costs and improves our margin over time. As a matter of fact, investing in training and certification of our people works so well, now all of our project managers at Crystallogy are professional engineers and project management professionals today.

Another challenge start-up business owners often face is the burnout from the lack of a community of peers. It’s tremendously helpful and personally satisfying to join professional organizations in my field and small business owner training groups. Crystallogy Engineering does a lot of work in the alternative energy construction space; consequently, I joined the technical committee of NFPA 2, the Hydrogen Technologies Code, and served as the alternate chair for the 2020 edition, which is adopted to the California Fire Code.

I also recommend the V2V program to learn from other veteran business owners and receive coaching from Nelson Leadership. I am especially impressed with the

Crystal Xie
Certified Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (DVBE) and Small Business (SB) Crystal Xie, President and Founder of Crystallogy Engineering, with over 14 years of experience in market intelligence, business strategy, mechanical system design and project management.
generosity of fellow veteran business owners in selflessly sharing valuable business information and opportunities with me. The longer I’m in business the more I realize there are a lot of commonalities in business across industries.

As veterans, a lot of us are finishing our education later on in life, often with the pressures of supporting a family while working full time. You already know you could use the GI Bill for your undergrad, but have you considered saving your GI Bill eligibility for graduate school instead? Have you thought of going to a state school instead of private schools? I have been very blessed to have received grants and scholarships for my B.S in Aerospace engineering. For my master’s in mechanical engineering, since I was working in the area of structural engineering, I was once again fortunate to be sponsored by JPL. It is not until when I started my MBA program while working for UTC did I start struggling to pay a hefty business school tuition. Fortunately, a fellow veteran in my UCLA Anderson program told me that reservists who have served active duty deployments are also entitled to the 911 GI Bill, even when you didn’t pay into the program with your monthly reservist pay.

For those of you who are considering a career in STEM, I have enjoyed many aspects of engineering that I would like to share a few insights for you to consider if engineering the path for you as well. Early on, I knew that I had an aptitude for science and math, but I really did not know what engineering work would entail and whether I would be able to find life-long enjoyment of practicing hands-on. I was fortunate to land an engineering internship at JPL shortly after I came back from Iraq before the end of my junior year at UCLA. I had the pleasure of being mentored by senior engineers and experienced technicians, and it is through working hands-on in labs and machine shops that I discover the joy of designing, manufacturing, and testing mechanical systems I can visualize and touch! And it is the same joy that ultimately led me to build this company to design and build even bigger structures and systems!

10 Most Affordable Cities in America for Veterans

Close up of male hand packing cardboard box with spouse in the background

Numerous cities in America offer a high quality of life, but sometimes those cities are not always the most affordable for veterans looking to utilize their VA home loan.

Finding a balance between affordability and economic wellness is important whether you’re a young professional fresh out of college, or a service member looking to relocate.

Veteran’s United has compiled a short list of affordable places for veterans to consider when relocating to help avoid breaking the bank. Let’s take a closer look at the areas that topped the list.



10 Most Affordable Cities in America for Veterans

Laredo Texas

#1 – Laredo, TX

Laredo is a small Spanish villa that is located in South Texas. Laredo managed to secure the top spot on the list this year. Many people are drawn to the city because of its rich culture and affordable cost of living.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 90.7
  • Veteran Population – 5,080
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.40%
  • Median Annual Salary – $37,890
Corpus Christi

#2 – Corpus Christi, TX

Various residents are able to stretch their dollar a bit further living here due to the low cost of living. Corpus Christi is a city on the Gulf of Mexico that has tons of beaches and other attractions to enjoy.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 94.3
  • Veteran Population – 25,153
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.60%
  • Median Annual Salary – $43,325

#3 – Lubbock, TX

Lubbock is a city in West Texas that is known for is music, and its culture rich museums. Lubbock is also home to Texas Tech University among other colleges in the area.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 93.7
  • Veteran Population – 12,018
  • Unemployment Rate – 4.80%
  • Median Annual Salary – $36,653
El Paso

#4 – El Paso, TX

El Paso is a city with a lot to offer. Some of those things include hiking in some of the local parks, enjoying some music at the Don Haskins Center, or enjoying a day at the El Paso Zoo.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 87.4
  • Veteran Population – 44,580
  • Unemployment Rate – 6.90%
  • Median Annual Salary – $39,379
San Antonio

#5 – San Antonio, TX

San Antonio is a vibrant city in South Texas that offers a unique sightseeing, shopping, outdoor activities, and historic sites to visit. Luckily for those looking to call San Antonio home, it also a really affordable place to live.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 88.7
  • Veteran Population – 107,359
  • Unemployment Rate – 6.40%
  • Median Annual Salary – $40,978
Oklahoma City

#6 – Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City is the capital of the state of Oklahoma and offers a great cuisine, cultural attractions, and outdoor activities to enjoy.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 85.4
  • Veteran Population – 42,000
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.20%
  • Median Annual Salary – $40,920

#7 – Arlington/Fort Worth TX

Arlington is another great affordable city to consider when looking for places to live. There are amusement parks, and you can even take a tour of the Global Life Park, which is home of the Texas Rangers.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 108.90
  • Veteran Population – 19,153
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.50%
  • Median Annual Salary – $43,264

Forth Worth is an affordable city for those who may be looking to settle down in a place with rodeos, sports and much more.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 95.3
  • Veteran Population – 42,375
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.80%
  • Median Annual Salary – $43,877

(Note: These two areas were combined due to their close proximity.)


#8 – Columbus, OH

Columbus is that capital of the state Ohio and offers great coffee, local music and dining.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 92.0
  • Veteran Population – 41,428
  • Unemployment Rate – 6.30%
  • Median Annual Salary – $35,384

#9 – Tulsa, OK

Tulsa is the second largest city in Oklahoma. Tulsa offers a a large range of activities such as visiting that Tulsa zoo, the Philbrook Museum of Art and many other attractions.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 86.0
  • Veteran Population – 24,324
  • Unemployment Rate – 6.70%
  • Median Annual Salary – $36,050

#10 – Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville is typically known for it’s sandy beached and great fishing, but it also serves as a great place to call home.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 91.3
  • Veteran Population – 79,192
  • Unemployment Rate – 7.60%
  • Median Annual Salary – $39,775

Factors that Affect Affordability

To determine the top affordable cities in America for veterans, Veterans United analysts collected data from the 100 most populated cities in the United States and compared the following dimensions (Economic Wellness, and Affordability).

We evaluated the strength of each city across those dimensions using 4 relevant variables. Each city was then scored and ranked in each of the 4 variables by multiplying the city’s rank by that variable’s weight. The final rankings were determined by the city’s total score, with the lowest score representing the best city for Veterans to live.

Here’s a quick run-down of each metric:

  • 2018 – 2019 Q3 Cost of Living Index (Double Weight)
  • Veteran Unemployment Rate (Full Weight)
  • 5 Year Rate of Job Growth (2013 – 2018) (Half Weight)
  • Median Veteran Income (Double Weight)

Final Thoughts

The places on this list are not only affordable, but they also offer a rich culture and history with tons of attractions to enjoy. Use our affordability calculator to estimate your loan pre-approval amount based on your income and expenses.


Data was collected from the US Census Bureau – American Community Survey, Council for Community and Economic Research, US Census Bureau – American Community Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics (CES-SA), and Veterans United Home Loans.

Tips on how to contract with the government

Yolanda Clarke MBA, PMP, CEO/founder of Powder River Industries

By Yolanda Clarke

Doing business with the government is still business. Everything any other start-up has to do, you will have to do as well. You’ll have additional requirements to satisfy, regardless of whether you are a woman, minority, veteran or otherwise.

The benefit of being a veteran is some preference to compete for contracts with the Veterans Administration and a small percentage of work other agencies may set aside for veteran-only competition.


What Unique Requirements Do You Need Complete as A Veteran for That Advantage?
Complete the steps at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Small Business Utilization Vendor Information Page https://www.vip.vetbiz.va.gov/ Apply for verification as a veteran owned or service-disabled veteran-owned business. Call (866)584-2344 or (202)303-3260 or email VIP@VA.GOV if you have questions. There is no cost to be verified.

What is the value of doing this for you and your success as a veteran competing in government contracting?
You must complete this verification to compete for veteran set-aside contracts with the Veterans Administration. In other government agencies, some contracts are set aside to only be competed by service-disabled or veteran-owned businesses. If you have not been third party verified, your competition could protest a contract award to your company causing delays in operations and contract funding (read “your business cash flow”). Also, if all things are equal between your proposal and another company’s, being third-party verified makes the contracting officers’ jobs easier. Who would you choose?

Resources to Help You Get Started
One of the best places to get started in government contracting is your nearest Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). They will point you in the right direction on the basics for government contracting. Another great resource is your local Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). One of my other favorite resources is a volunteer organization called Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). All of these organizations provide free or low-cost support to small businesses. The exact types of offices near you may vary from region to region, but these will get you started as you gain confidence and traction to ask more questions leading to more valuable resources.

You may find that the support you can receive at each office varies. That’s okay. You’re still learning something. If you find you know more than the counselor assigned to you—fantastic! You’re ahead of where you need to be. If you find yourself in friction with someone at the office, it’s a good opportunity to pause and ask yourself, “why?” Frequently, the friction comes from not hearing what you want to, but that’s entrepreneur life. In business, obstacles and competition always appear to take you off your path. Your job as a leader is to identify those and find ways to successfully navigate your business around them. This starts first in managing yourself and figuring out what you will do with all the knowledge you gain from these great resources.

Finally, I would encourage you to find a non-equity requiring startup incubator to join. Entrepreneur life is lonely. As a service member, you rarely did anything on your own and accomplished impossible things working on teams. Your entrepreneur journey can be the same! You can find incubators and accelerators on university campuses and by searching local business resources. Many will be regional, however, there are a few national programs emerging, such as Patriot Boot Camp powered by Techstars and Bunker Labs.

Being a veteran will only get you so far. The resources and motivation you will get from working with other motivated entrepreneurs will help you through the hard times. Remember, there’s always another card in the deck. Being a part of your community can help you find your next move.

About the Author
Yolanda Clarke (pictured above) is the founder/CEO of Powder River Industries. She has served both in active duty and reserves for 24 years, most recently in the U.S. Army Reserves. Powder River Industries provides cyber and data science services to various U.S. government agencies. Her firm has received the following awards: Certificate of Special Congressional recognition from James Panetta, Award of Excellence from Monterey County Business Council, Monterey County Board of Supervisors Certificate of Recognition, California Legislative Assembly Certificate of Recognition for 2017 Small Business of the Year Honoree by the Monterey County Business Council, State of California Senate Certificate of Recognition for being honored as a recipient of the Monterey County Business Council Small Business of the Year.

Best and Worst States for Hiring Veterans

Soldier with tablet standing in front of a blurry map

During the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan Vets hovered between 13%-15%. Thankfully, that number as of December 2019 decreased to 2.8%.

InMyArea.com today released a study on the Best and Worst States for Hiring Veterans using the most recent data from state and federal governments, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau and the Veterans Affairs Administration.

The rankings were determined by analyzing government hiring practices, unemployment rates, median income, veteran business ownership and job training investment per veteran in every state.

Here are key national findings from the study:

  • The 10 best states for hiring veterans include: New Jersey, Alaska, Virginia, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Dakota, Georgia, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
  • The 10 worst states for hiring veterans: Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Wyoming, West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
  • Highest average salary is in Virginia ($56,140) and the lowest in Arkansas ($33,584).
  • Only six states saw vet unemployment increase in the last five years: North Dakota, Ohio, Idaho, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Vermont
  • Four states put vets on the front of the line for civil service jobs: New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.
  • Veteran-owned businesses are most prominent in Oklahoma and South Carolina

Read the complete breakdown of the Best and Worst States for Hiring Veterans here.

U.S. Department of Labor Recognizes Apprenticeship Program for Disabled Veterans

businessman shaking hands with veteran with U.S. flag behind them

The U.S. Department of Labor formally recognized a new National Standards of Apprenticeship program for the Center for Business Acceleration (CBA) at a signing ceremony on February 12, 2020.

The apprenticeship includes certificate programs accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB), making it the first ANAB-accredited program for disabled veterans. The apprenticeships will be offered nationwide through employers participating in the U.S. AbilityOne Commission’s AbilityOne Program, which provides employment opportunities to more than 45,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities, including approximately 3,000 veterans.

The apprenticeship includes certificate programs accredited by ANAB to ANSI/ASTM E2659 for business management, quality management, risk management, and a new program for occupational health and safety management. The recognition opens up a new chapter for disabled U.S. veterans who have decided to pursue self-employment careers.

The apprenticeship program facilitates employment of persons with significant disabilities or blindness, including disabled veterans, and supports career and entrepreneur skills in cooperation with opportunities programs supported by U.S. AbilityOne Commission, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, Community Rehabilitation Centers, and other employment options.

“AbilityOne’s veteran employment initiative will become the model for providing the skills bridge through apprenticeships for veterans with severe disabilities across the nation,” said CBA’s President Phillip Selleh during the signing ceremony.

“ANAB is proud to be part of this historic milestone to support veteran careers and their valuable contributions to the U.S. workforce,” said ANAB executive director Lane Hallenbeck. ANAB executive director Lane Hallenbeck and Dr. Turan Ayvaz, ANAB director of certificate accreditation programs, attended the signing ceremony along with representatives of the Department of Labor, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. AbilityOne Commission, and CBA.

About ANAB
The ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) is the largest multi-disciplinary ISO/IEC 17011 accreditation body in North America, with comprehensive signatory status across the multilateral recognition arrangements of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and International Accreditation Forum (IAF). The ANAB accreditation portfolio includes management systems certification bodies, calibration and testing labs, product certification bodies, personnel credentialing organizations, forensic test and calibration service providers, inspection bodies, police crime units, greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies, reference material producers, and proficiency test providers.

ANAB is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system and strengthening its impact, both domestically and internationally.

About ANSI
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the American quality of life by promoting, facilitating, and safeguarding the integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Its membership is comprised of businesses, professional societies and trade associations, standards developers, government agencies, and consumer and labor organizations.

The Institute represents and serves the diverse interests of more than 270,000 companies and organizations and 30 million professionals worldwide. ANSI is the official U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via the U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). For more information, visit ansi.org.

About the Center for Business Acceleration
The Center for Business Acceleration (CBA) is a non-profit institution of higher learning that offers multiple curriculum program options that are accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board. The CBA network offers business professionals, entrepreneurs, and employees curricula designed for working professionals. CBA’s VA Accelerator is designed to assist veterans with business administration, management, and entrepreneurship.

Keep Your Eye on These 15 Jobs

man dressed in a suit with several other professionals in the background

You might be thinking, “How can I find a private sector career when my work history is so different?” The good news is, though, there are plenty of great jobs for veterans out there.

The truth is, many employers are eager to hire veterans. The discipline, leadership and work ethic that you learn in the military translhttps://www.usveteransmagazine.com/wp-admin/post-new.php#edit_timestampate well into the private sector, and the diversity of experience you bring with you can help lead to new and innovative ideas and solutions.

So what jobs most benefit from these skills?

While your options are endless, we’ve put together a list of great jobs for veterans.

All of these positions benefit from the skills you learn in the military and have relatively low barriers to entry—no need to have years of directly related work experience.

Check them out below, and apply today!


Average base pay: $51,468/yr

Project coordinators oversee projects, making sure each necessary component is delivered on time and within budget. To excel in this position, you’ll need superb organizational and communication skills.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/project-coordinator-jobs-SRCH_KO0,19.htm


Average base pay: $43,464/yr

Don’t let fears of automation dissuade you—truck drivers are in high demand right now and will likely continue to be in the foreseeable future. Truck drivers carry cargo from point A to point B and require a commercial driving license. It may also be a good idea to attend truck driving school if you don’t have experience driving large vehicles.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/truck-driver-jobs-SRCH_KO0,12.htm


Average base pay: $39,300/yr

Sales representatives reach out and field inquiries from prospective customers, whether through email, phone or in-person. Sales representatives should have excellent people and communication skills and understand their clients’ needs.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/sales-representative-jobs-SRCH_KO0,20.htm


Average base pay: $51,349/yr

In many ways, recruiters’ jobs are very similar to sales representatives—but rather than selling a product or service to a client, they’re selling a candidate on a job and company. Recruiters both proactively seek out candidates for open jobs and field inquiries from interested candidates. Great people and organizational skills are a must.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/recruiter-jobs-SRCH_KO0,9.htm


Average base pay: $36,826/yr

If you have previous experience repairing or maintaining equipment, you might be interested in a career as a technician. Technicians work on all sorts of equipment and machinery, from cars to computers to aircraft and more. Depending on which field you enter, you may need certification, but programs are often significantly less time-intensive and costly than college degrees.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/technician-jobs-SRCH_KO0,10.htm


Average base pay: $48,397/yr

Operations coordinator is a role where you ensure that a business runs smoothly and efficiently. To do this, you’ll perform various support tasks for the team you’re assigned to. Candidates should be detail-oriented, organized and excellent at time management.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/operations-coordinator-jobs-SRCH_KO0,22.htm

Store Manager

Average base pay: $50,688/yr

An excellent choice for anyone with leadership experience, store managers are tasked with leading the day-to-day functions of a store. This might include scheduling, inventory, employee training and coaching, marketing and reporting.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/store-manager-jobs-SRCH_KO0,13.htm


Average base pay: $50,000/yr

Another strong option for those with maintenance and repair experience, plumbers install and fix water-supplying pipes and drains. Plumbers usually need proper licensing, which can be obtained through a combination of training, experience and sometimes an exam.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/plumber-jobs-SRCH_KO0,7.htm

Customer Support Representative

Average base pay: $33,512/yr

Customer support representatives’ primary responsibility is to keep customers satisfied. They do this by fielding questions and complaints, whether through phone, email, in person or on social media. Customer support representatives should have great people skills and an eagerness to become experts in their company’s products or services.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/customer-support-representative-jobs-SRCH_KO0,31.htm


Average base pay: $53,794/yr

As their title suggests, electricians install and repair electrical systems. They may work in residential homes, larger buildings, outdoor power lines or other specialties. Electricians typically need a license, which often requires formal training, an apprenticeship and an exam.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/electrician-jobs-SRCH_KO0,11.htm

Logistics Coordinator

Average base pay: $46,898/yr

Those with military logistics training could excel in a private sector career in logistics. Logistics coordinators typically are responsible for managing activities in a company’s supply chain and may be responsible for coordinating and tracking shipments from departure to destination, communicating with suppliers and preparing accurate documents of record.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/logistics-coordinator-jobs-SRCH_KO0,21.htm

Warehouse Associate

Average base pay: $24,000/yr

Prefer to stay on your feet and active? You might want to consider becoming a warehouse associate. Warehouse Associates spend their time moving packages between different destinations in a warehouse and may operate equipment like forklifts. While the pay is on the lower end, a hot labor market and the rising popularity of eCommerce is driving wages up.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/warehouse-associate-jobs-SRCH_KO0,19.htm


Average base pay: $67,377/yr

If you’ve got a knack for numbers, you might want to become a data analyst. Data analysts gather and analyze data to identify trends and derive business insights. You may need to teach yourself a few additional skills—SQL, R and Python are common computing languages used—but there’s no shortage of online tutorials and courses to help you out.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/data-analyst-jobs-SRCH_KO0,12.htm


Average base pay: $48,883/yr

Real estate agent is a common choice for career changers of all different backgrounds. Real estate agents connect prospective buyers or renters with available properties. They should have great interpersonal, sales and marketing skills, and must pass an exam to obtain a license.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/real-estate-agent-jobs-SRCH_KO0,17.htm


Average base pay: $51,564/yr

Good with computers? Think about becoming an IT support specialist, whose primary duty is to ensure that an organization’s employees have a smooth technological experience. You may be required to assist with helpdesk tickets, set up equipment and train employees on new technologies. Formal training and certifications are sometimes required but can often be completed online or through a vocational school.

See open jobs here: glassdoor.com/Job/it-support-specialist-jobs-SRCH_KO0,21.htm

Source: Glassdoor

Navy Veteran Builds Successful Second Career as a Franchise Business Owner

Ronald Finch veteran business owner

By Rhonda Sanderson

Ron Finch doesn’t need Veterans Day to remind him he’s in select company. A career Naval officer who served 22 years, Finch is a franchise owner with Enviro-Master Services, North America’s leading health and safety-focused commercial cleaning service that has doubled in size since 2012. A favorite among veterans, Enviro-Master offers a 25 percent discount to former military members. Conversely, veterans are a favorite among franchisors, and with good reason.

“I would tell any veteran to keep their nose to the grindstone, because it’s going to be a lot of work. However, the reward is great; the ability to make a difference in others’ lives, to make a difference in the community where you live and financial independence and autonomy for yourself.” Finch, a Mobile resident who purchased an existing Enviro-Master franchise in July 2018, serves commercial businesses throughout the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast regions of Alabama and Mississippi.

Enviro-Master is focused on making a difference in the health of communities around the world with 78 franchise locations currently servicing thousands of retail and restaurant locations weekly. Enviro-Master provides a comprehensive disease prevention, odor control and sterilization program for commercial businesses. In 2018 Enviro-Master International Franchise was ranked for the fifth year in a row by Inc. 5000 as one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies, and in 2019 for the seventh year in a row by Entrepreneur Franchise 500.

Having spent more than two decades as a Naval Aviator, Finch said he was fortunate to hold many leadership positions in his former career. Among them, returning from his last deployment, Finch became the Maintenance Officer of a failing maintenance department at his squadron, responsible for 11 helicopters and approximately 200 personnel.

“I had to work to instill a culture of excellence and integrity, and that’s a philosophy I carried with me when I bought my existing franchise,” Finch said of Enviro-Master, which provides unique processes and products that disinfect and sterilize surfaces that serve as breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses, such as the flu, Hepatitis, Norovirus and MRSA. Enviro-Master’s commercial restroom hygiene service, which is applied with EPA-registered, non-toxic products, ensures 99.99 percent of germs are killed. “Our brand had low recognition in my territory,” said Finch, whose majority of customers are restaurants and convenience stores. “It is very exciting to be out on the sales road telling businesses what we do. I’m adding customers because most thought they only had one or two big-name, high-priced choices until we met.”

After retiring from the Navy, Finch considered several options, but they involved relocating, something Finch wanted to avoid for his family. A franchise coach introduced him to Enviro-Master, a company that is a recognized leader in the $61 billion commercial cleaning industry, which is expected to grow by an additional two percent in 2019 alone, according to experts.

Finch offers these three lessons he learned in the military that he translated to his new business:

  • Integrity is paramount. In the military, shortcutting a procedure can result in loss of life. In this business, doing things the right way every time keeps the customers happy and aids in retention.
  • These next two fall under leadership. Every military leader knows leading by example is vital to creating a high-performing culture. With my business, I have to hold myself to the highest standard if I am to demand excellence from my team and expect them to execute.
  • Also, under the broader leadership category is taking care of your people. Those who are working hard have to know their boss (leader) cares for them. If the boss is setting the example and caring for the employees, they feel valued and respected from the top and are much more willing to perform at a high level. Overall, these lessons result in accomplishing the mission of customer retention, business growth, and gaining more business from customer base (Retain, Grow, Gain).

Currently targeting growth in major markets throughout North America, Enviro-Master’s continued growth is fueled by five basic fundamentals: 1) Large, identifiable markets; 2) Lack of competition; 3) Recession resistance; 4) Recurring revenue model; and 5) Service that can’t be displaced by technology. “I considered a few different franchises at first, but Enviro-Master was my favorite choice based on their business model,” Finch said. “After my discovery weekend with Enviro-Master leadership and staff, I knew it was the right choice.”

Rhonda Sanderson is founder and president of Sanderson PR, a Chicago-based marketing and public relations firm specializing in franchising since 1986.

Photo Credit: John Amato

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