The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) celebrates, connects, and empowers veterans and their families each year during National Veterans Small Business Week (NVSBW), this year Nov. 4 through 8. So, what do we do and why?

Now entering its sixth year, NVSBW renews the SBA’s national commitment to veteran business ownership, highlights its positive impact on the U.S. economy and provides a discussion forum for the ongoing challenges faced by the veteran entrepreneurship community.

During the week the SBA offers all service members — including National Guard and Reserves, veterans who want to start a business, their military spouse entrepreneurs and business owners and current veteran business owners — new connections to resources and mentorship to help them become successful.

All are administered through SBA and our stakeholders, both in person and online. In person events of the week from SBA’s 68 district offices across the nation are listed at www.sba.gov/vetbiz. Typing in a zip code will list those near you.

In addition, all through the year, staff members from our Region 7 SBA district offices, SCORE volunteers and our Region 7 Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), located in St. Louis and found at www.sba.gov/vboc, provide Boots to Business seminars for military personnel re-entering civilian life. Those entrepreneurial trainings, whose schedules and more are found at www.sba.gov/boots2business, will be offered more frequently in the upcoming federal fiscal year 2020 as requested in the SBA budget, if approved — another fact showing SBA’s and this administration’s commitment to jobs for veterans.

But there is even more support available from SBA resource partners. SCORE volunteers can support a #VetBiz mission with direct counseling and mentorship; a visit to the VBOC can help a veteran’s mission to #VetBiz success and some Small Business Development Centers offer training suited to veterans.

Why does the SBA focus so much on veteran entrepreneurship? We do this because we and everyone in our communities owe a debt to veterans — one that secures our freedom and our chance to live the American Dream. NVSBW helps us show veterans that this dream can be theirs as well. But there is another reason for you and I to support veterans and their business dreams during this week.

Take the case of Richard Messina from Play it Again Sports in Omaha. Richard attended a Boots to Business seminar some years back when he was separating from the Air Force. He then used a Patriot Express loan to open what has become a very successful franchise, repurposing used sport equipment. Since then, he has become a SCORE member to help other entrepreneurs, involves himself in the community and also speaks at each Boots to Business training the SBA offers at Offutt Air Force Base.

Gratitude — Richard’s and ours — that word explains the why.

Some upcoming events in our region during National Veterans Small Business Week are listed below. Other #VetBiz activities may be found at www.sba.gov/vetbiz.

- 9-10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Gladstone: Free Veteran Small Business Event.

- 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Springfield: Free “Starting a Business in Missouri: A Veteran’s Event.”

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