That is, at least, until you read what I've learned from meeting with veterans, what problems we as franchisors may encounter in awarding franchises to veterans and give consideration to a solution that very well may be our silver bullet.
First, let's not forget, since 2000, nearly 2.6 million courageous servicemen and women have served or are now deployed in the Middle East and around the world defending our freedom. For these heroes, the question remains: Will we be there for them?
I served in the Military Police during the Vietnam era, and I painfully remember how our uniformed troops who dutifully sacrificed and came home were verbally confronted at airports, heckled at train stations and ignored at restaurants.
It pleases me no end to see the reception our troops receive today--heartfelt applause on airplanes, generous people who pick up their checks in restaurants and other thoughtful displays of gratitude.
Now we have another cause to rally support for: Putting our veterans to work in civilian life. As of last October, the jobless rate for all U.S. veterans was 6.9 percent. However, according to a chart published by the Council of Economic Advisers, the unemployment rate for veterans who served since 9/11 stood at 10 percent with 246,000 out of work.
Helping Veterans Own Their Own Business
I have to salute Steve Caldeira, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, and his staff for taking the lead in hiring our veterans. On Nov. 9, 2011, the IFA launched Operation Enduring Opportunity, a timely and well-thought-out initiative to put veterans and their spouses to work in franchising or to give them the keys to own their own business.
At the same time, franchise companies across the country participated in the roll out. My team in Georgia staged a press conference at the state Capitol to announce the program. I know that what we and other franchisors did to tell the story and spread the message helped make a difference. I had the honor to accompany Steve to The White House Nov. 21, 2011, to witness President Obama sign the American Jobs Act. It was a thrill I won't soon forget.
The good news is that since 2011, the franchise community has created jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for more than 150,000 veterans and their spouses. That's a big number, and we should all be proud of the contributions we've made. But, there is more to be done.
I'm glad to say that my friend Joe Lindenmayer, CFE, former Marine and...