Integrate Veterans Fully To Energize Entrepreneurship: a Bunker Labs OpEd
As we celebrate Veterans Day, November 11th, let’s commit to integrating veterans fully into American society. That’s the biggest challenge facing military veterans who are entrepreneurs, in our experience at Bunker Labs, which works with veterans in New York City and nationwide who are starting their own businesses.
“Veteran-owned small business contribute to 8% of the total US GDP.”
– Paul Capon, LunaCap Ventures
After World War II, veterans were quickly absorbed into American society, because so many Americans had served in the military. As a result, 49 percent of veterans came home to start a business. Today, about 7.3 percent of Americans have served in the military at some time, with only 1% of young Americans enlisting. And while 25% of veterans want to start their own business, only 6 percent of those coming off active duty will.
Yet, America needs business growth. Today’s veterans are well suited to it – young, technology-native, smart, risk-taking, entrepreneurial, world-traveled, and with experience solving complex challenges.
The challenge for America is to better integrate veterans into business and entrepreneurial environments. To achieve that, we need more highly connected communities, where people of all backgrounds have access to the resources that they need to start businesses. These key steps should include:
- Focus on building entrepreneurial ecosystems — community cultures that encourage and support entrepreneurship. These ecosystems are emerging nationwide.
- Make sure those ecosystems are broadly inclusive. Reach out to local veterans’ organizations and ensure that relevant information gets to veterans.
- Activate and energize talent. Veteran unemployment is declining, but high turnover speaks to veterans feeling that their first job was not equivalent to their skill set.
- Ensure that experts in entrepreneurship, not experts on veterans, are driving the discussion. Work with veterans to realize their future, not focus on their past.
- Do not make decisions about how to support veterans without veterans in the room. They must be present in the decision-making.
“Our Bunker Labs events, here in New York, continue to grow. We excel at connecting Veteran entrepreneurs to new customers, mentors, and like minded veterans with proven success.”
– Fernando Alvarez, Bunker Labs NY
Our nation needs job growth, and nearly all net new job creation is attributable to new businesses, according to the Kauffman Foundation. More than one million men and women will return from military service by 2022. Let’s honor them here in New York and across the U.S. on Veterans Day by committing to integrate them fully into American society. Let’s put entrepreneurial ecosystems in place and ensure that they are working to help veterans realize their dreams.
About Bunker Labs
Bunker Labs is a National not-for-profit 501(C)(3) built by military Veteran entrepreneurs to empower other military Veterans as leaders in innovation. Through local chapters across the U.S., Bunker Labs provides educational programming, access to resources, and a thriving local network to help military veterans and their spouses start and grow businesses. It works to Inspire, Educate, and Connect veterans with the right resources and people locally to be successful, while also providing national tools and resources like: Bunker in a Box or our Community Mobile App to support aspiring entrepreneurs where ever they may currently live or be stationed.
Bunker Labs New York
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