There is a 30% unemployment rate for veterans between the ages of 18-24 years.

By Michele Markey (VP, Kauffman FastTrac)

For years, the men and women of the United States military have proudly stepped forward to defend the freedoms and liberties of our great nation. These brave souls put everything on the line to answer the call to duty, putting the safety of the country ahead of their own welfare, the needs and demands of serving ahead of their own personal priorities and timelines. They give freely where many others are unable or unwilling to sacrifice.

As many of these brave soldiers return home and transition back to civilian life, an important consideration for them will be their career path. This is significant as a November 2011 BusinessWeek article cited a 30% unemployment rate for veterans between the ages of 18-24 years.

The jobless rate for female veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan these wars is nearly 22%. While these numbers are sobering, there is positive news. By nature of their experience, many of these soldiers have had the opportunity to develop, hone and define extraordinary skillsets – much of which has potential to transition nicely to entrepreneurial pursuits. In fact, many have done just that as Veteran owned businesses are a growing part of the U.S. economy.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. military veterans own an estimated 2.4 million businesses, which accounts for 9% of all businesses nationwide These businesses employ 5.8 million people and their payrolls total $210 billion veteran-owned businesses generate $1.2 trillion in sales annually

Nearly one-third of veteran owned businesses are in the professional, scientific and technical services and construction sector. While these numbers are impressive there is tremendous opportunity to help veterans even more to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. That is exactly what we at Kauffman FastTrac have been working on for the past several months.

Through our FastTrac® NewVenture™ for the Veteran Entrepreneur course, we have been able to provide entrepreneurial training and guidance to hundreds of veteran entrepreneurs. It is with this same commitment to building the entrepreneurial ecosystem for veterans that we have recently announced our sponsorship for a veteran focused event being hosted by TechStars.

TechStars plans to conduct the one-week RisingStars Patriot Boot Camp, to be held in Washington, DC in July 2012. It will be an intensive program designed to educate and mentor veterans and service people to innovate, build technology companies and create jobs. The program’s goal is to serve 75 participants comprised of veterans, spouses of veterans and teams/companies made up of 50% or more veterans.

The week will include:

  • Presentations by technology industry leaders;
  • One-on-one mentoring from the TechStars team;
  • Interaction with other motivated entrepreneurs;
  • Education on the process to build a technology startup;
  • Group visits to successful, local startups;
  • Access to startup community resources; and
  • Peer/mentor feedback.

The Patriot Boot Camp will conclude with product demos, pitches and concept presentations to the group which will be recorded and aggregated for future use by the participants. The participants can also count on a long-term relationship and support from TechStars.

Participation in the Patriot Boot Camp will be the catalyst for veterans and service people to kick-start company, find co-founders, and advance as entrepreneurs. The event takes place at Georgetown University from July 18 – 20, 2012. Interested U.S. military veterans and service people may apply here.

It is with a deep commitment and regard for our military personnel that we are proud to sponsor and support these veteran focused initiatives. Please join us as we say thank you to the men and women who have served our country.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

Photo credit: Ian Sane on Flickr.

About the guest blogger: Michele Markey is the Vice President of Kauffman FastTrac, the leading provider of learning curricula that equip aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with the business skills and insights, tools, resources, and networks to start and grow successful businesses. Kauffman FastTrac was created by the Kauffman Foundation, the largest foundation whose mission is to advance entrepreneurship as a key to growing economies and expanding human welfare. She blogs at Follow Michele on Twitter at @SheVenture.