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Chairman Williams: “Saluting Service: Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Small Business is holding a full committee hearing titled “Saluting Service: Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses.”

Chairman Roger Williams’ opening statement as prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s hearing which will focus on supporting veteran-owned small businesses.

Without our brave men and women serving in the armed forces, we would not be the country that we are today. Their service and willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice are what allows us here at home to carry on with our daily lives, through everything from going to work and school, to helping with our kids’ little league games, and everything in between. Our service members run towards danger, defend our God-given freedoms in faraway lands, and protect us from those who seek to do us harm. Simply put, those who have served on the frontlines to protect our nation are beacons of hope for our country not only in the present, but for future generations of leaders, and serve as an example for others to follow in their footsteps.

For the last 12 years, I had the pleasure of representing the Great Place in Texas, Fort Cavazos, formerly known as Fort Hood. This is the largest military base in the country and is called home by over 30,000 active-duty service members. It’s an honor every time I meet with them there, as they come from all walks of life from all corners of our country.

When I visit the base and sit down with our soldiers, it is inspiring to hear these peoples’ stories and what they want to accomplish once they finish their military services. They and their families are nothing short of extraordinary. Their drive, dedication, and work ethic are all attributes we should all strive to have and all of which make our society a much better place. As they protect us and allow us to pursue our American Dreams, we have a responsibility to help them do the same after their service is complete.

Military service members are natural leaders who play a vital role in our economy. Our nation’s heroes own close to two million businesses, nearly all of which are small businesses, and are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans.

The federal government offers an array of programs that support service members and their families if they are interested in creating their own small business. One of these programs is the Small Business Administration’s Boots to Business initiative, which provides entrepreneurship training to Transitioning Service Members to help them re-enter the workforce and give them the tools to start their own business.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, over 150,000 service members, veterans, and military spouses have participated in the Boots to Business program. I was fortunate enough to see first-hand the work this program does when I visited Fort Cavazos with Administrator Guzman this past March to listen to the amazing business ideas that many of our service members have today.

Our nation’s brave servicemen and servicewomen are truly the bedrock of our country and put their lives on the line to defend our Constitution and freedom around the world. To conclude, I hope today’s hearing can further assist our country’s service members in their transition to civilian life and to help them pursue their dreams here at home. God bless you all and thank you for all you’ve done for our country.

With that I will yield to our distinguished Ranking Member from New York, Ms. Velázquez.