The VET Act of 2015 introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry with much of the work done by an active duty military fellow is dead. It sounds dramatic but that’s the terminology. “This bill was introduced on July 28, 2015, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted,” according to GovTrack. But, I’m curious if SOFREP readers and veterans thinks this sort of law might be beneficial.

Below is a “one-pager” write-up of the Law that I obtained from Rep. Fortenberry’s office.

The Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition (VET) Act of 2015 (H.R. 3248), would allow veterans the opportunity to pursue their small business and entrepreneurial aspirations by giving them access to resources through the Small Business Administration and their GI Bill benefit. The key components of the VET Act are:

The establishment of a 3-year pilot program overseen by the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs (15 U.S.C. 657b), that will enable up to 250 GI Bill benefit-eligible veterans to pursue an educational entrepreneurial training program, business plan development assistance and to start a new business or purchase an existing business or franchise.

The pilot program includes a thorough application process and requires participation in an approved entrepreneurial training program, such as the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, Veterans Business Outreach Program, Boots to Business, Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, additional SBA or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approved training programs as well as program approved by the Administrator and Advisory Committee.

Through the entrepreneurial training program, veterans are required to develop a business plan to be approved by their training program advisor and the SBA’s Associate Administrator for Veterans Business Development.

Once a veteran completes the entrepreneurial training and business plan development requirements, the veteran may receive their GI Bill benefit in the form of a grant in order to implement their business plan and start their small business enterprise.

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So, what do you think SOFREP readers? I think I would be interested in using or, if someone is committed, has a business plan ready and rearing encourage them to take this option. If the GI Bill is vastly underutilized but those funds are appropriated regardless, why not let veterans cover the early development costs of their project? This is done at the agency level for emerging projects that might be useful for the warfighter. With this capability, it could ignite defense innovation and get products and capabilities into the hands of users (operators) faster than going through the traditional seed funding dance with as much overheard. Unless, of course, this process would become terrible and not user friendly.

Final thought – a common critique of the bill was that these funds won’t be used appropriately if this bill passed. The GI funds are education. I guess the only solution to that might be to partner with a business school and their entrepreneur-in-residence board and find a way to put together a kind of training, program to validate and test methodologies. In turn, they could fund a completely experiential mode of learning and the veteran could earn a degree or credits out of the venture.

 

Featured image courtesy of Washington.org