Encouraging Entrepreneurship for Military Spouses

Each May we memorialize the men and women who sacrifice their lives defending our freedom. Often forgotten are the military spouses, who give their all to maintain households and raise children. On May 23, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the first proclamation declaring Military Spouse Day.

Now celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day, National Spouse Day is a day to recognize these heroes of the armed services— the husbands and wives of our servicemen and women. Military families make incredible sacrifices, which includes leaving their careers and career development opportunities due to frequent relocations in support of military commitments.

The unemployment rate among military spouses is 23 percent, and considering 85 percent say they want to or need to work, that is unacceptable. When the average household relies on two incomes, it should come as no surprise military families find themselves in similar need.

I am encouraged by employers who are increasingly, looking for ways to attract military spouses through such technology, as allowing them to work remotely. I would like to point out another option supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration— Entrepreneurship: military spouses running their own businesses can be empowering, liberating, and highly adaptable to a mobile lifestyle.

As SBA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, I am committed to helping more people have the tools and skills they need to be entrepreneurs. We, and our partners have online and community-based resources across the country offering access to capital, training, and business opportunities. We even have special outreach specifically geared to military spouses through programs on military installations.

These programs are available through your local SBA District Offices and our resource partners. Visit SBA.gov to earn more about local resources (https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices), and more opportunities from SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (https://www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/ovbd/resources/1485216).

As we look ahead, the SBA is working with the Department of Labor and Department of Defense to reduce barriers to business ownership and cross-state credentialing for military spouses. For example, if someone has a real estate license or a hairstylist’s license in one state, it should be easier to transition those credentials to another state.

Today, there are more than a million military spouses— 700,000 active duty and 400,000 reserve/guard. Each has a broad diversity of talents and experiences the SBA can help build into careers. We must help military spouses succeed and feel empowered, because they sacrifice for all of us. After all, each and every small business contributes to America’s economic prosperity, which further strengthens this great nation our military is working to defend.