REACHING THE VETERAN BEFORE TRANSITION

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Much has been written about veterans transitioning from the military to the private sector over the last several years.

Several sources state that several hundred thousand members will be leaving the ranks of the military as a result of the drawdown from Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to the thousands of expected separations due to the end of an enlistment or contract.

The military members that retire often project when they will retire and have a fair amount of lead time before their separation from the military. These members will also have the benefit of a military pension to help ease them into transitioning from the military to the private sector. Current statistics state that only 17% of military members will stay long enough to earn a full pension from the military. That means that 83% of military members will transition from the military at some point in their life.

I separated from active duty in the Air Force in 2010. There are many sources and programs that military members are bombarded with before they separate from the military. My situation was no different. I had several months to begin searching for a new career, but the amount of resources was intimidating. Knowing where to start in the hunt for my next job was difficult. My challenge was further compounded by the fact that I was stationed overseas as I was transitioning out of the military. This specific scenario helps demonstrate that there are multiple aspects of life pulling at the member as they begin to transition. There are family and current job requirements that cannot be ignored while the member is attempting to look for a new job and, in most cases, a new place to call home. This challenge is exacerbated if the member lives overseas and cannot afford the travel or the time off from the job to be able to visit the United States for an interview or for job hunting. The aforementioned challenges, along with many others, make it obvious why it is so important to reach out to the actively serving military members regarding possible job or ownership opportunities within franchising sooner rather than later.

VetFran is aiming to help provide military members’ information on employment and ownership opportunities in franchising. Some of these opportunities may be in the short-term while others may be several years down the road as a longterm possibility. VetFran is working in cooperation with several organizations to help provide information on small business ventures such as franchising. VetFran is teaming up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in order to be able to attend several of the Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes events at military bases and the surrounding communities. This is an excellent opportunity for current military members to learn about the prospect of franchising while still serving in the military.

VetFran also takes an active role in the Boots to Business program that the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers throughout the country. This two day program introduces military members to aspects of small business and contains specific details about the franchise industry. Lastly, VetFran is beginning to also work with military family resource centers to provide literature and other materials so that military members can research on their own. This effort will also involve working to become more involved with the mandatory transition classes that all services provide to separating personnel.

I separated from active duty only five years ago and many of the transition programs have improved and continue to improve. At that time, there was little information aimed at separating military members regarding franchising. Rightfully so, the military can be hesitant to allow the promotion of other career opportunities as the military has a vested interest in keeping such highly qualified men and women. However, since 83% of those members will not retire from the military, the earlier a military member can learn about opportunities outside of the uniform, the more likely they will have a smoother transition into the private sector.

For more information please visit: www.VetFran.com or email GEldridge@franchise.org.