Veterans have fought for our freedoms and security, yet some of the longest and most difficult battles they fight are when they come home and can’t find work.

Government programs that incentive workers to hire veterans haven’t yielded the expected results and in some cases, have led to sinister, unintended consequences such as veterans being hired for the government money then immediately fired once the check comes.

Indeed, according one expert, it is these government case incentives that are sometimes at fault when a vet appears unable to hold a job. The vet may be affected by “churning,” meaning a company has made the hire job to pocket the money from the government.  


And there are obstacles that veterans face in the marketplace. Some veterans report they potential employers say they are too old for a job and others are told that the skills they acquired in the military don’t translate into civilian skills. There are also stereotypes that portray vets as unable to fit into civilian culture.

There’s also a skills gap and an education gap to overcome as troops are educated but not taught how to start a business or to become an entrepreneur. Enter the free market.

Some veterans are earning better, more sustainable livings by starting their own enterprises. According to the Small Business Administration, veterans are almost twice as likely to start their own enterprises as nonveterans.

CBNBC reports:

"This gap is a nut that's hard to crack, but I actually truly believe that veteran-owned businesses are going to be the thing that heals our country in the next 15 years," said Michael Zacchea, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and director of the University of Connecticut's Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.

Zacchea said veteran unemployment also has roots in the structure of the education system.

"Frankly, in our education system, starting a business is not often taught as a possibility. We are taught to get a job, or to go to college or go to the military," he said.

He added that the Department of Veteran Affairs too often doesn't spur veterans toward entrepreneurship. Some corporations have tried to lend a hand to entrepreneurs, however.

For instance, AT&T's Operation Hand Salute trains veterans to improve business operations, said Oliver Turman, director of AT&T's supplier diversity program. So far, the program includes 53 veteran-owned businesses, mostly technology firms.

Preparing veterans for their future which may be their own business is a winning idea. It’s not surprising that the private sector is leading the charge – yet another example of how as Americans we solve our problems apart from government direction, not because of it.

Entrepreneurship is a powerful quiver in our economy’s bow. From millennial startups to women-owned businesses to veteran enterprises, taking our idea and passion to the marketplace opens up to us a world of possibilities that makes not just our lives better, but our families, our communities, and our nation.