From Sara Emma Edmonds, who served in the Civil War as a man to Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, the first female 4-star general, women veterans have made considerable contributions to the U.S through their service.
Comprising 10 percent of the armed services veteran population in the United States and projected to grow to 15 percent by 2030, women veterans experience some unique challenges and opportunities compared to male veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
With more than 2 million women veterans there are many programs in place to provide an easier way for female veterans to transition back into civilian life and get started on their next chapter, whether that's going to school, starting a family or opening their own business. The National Woman's Veterans Summit serves as one such event where individuals can come together to learn about issues that affect women veterans, such as entrepreneurial training and opportunities.
The National Women Veterans Summit
The 2017 National Women Veterans Summit, originally scheduled for April but now moved to August, will celebrate the storied history and sacrifices made by women in the armed forces. The event, which takes place in Dallas, offers women veterans and their families a great opportunity to spark dialogues and collaboration among:
- Private industry.
- Nonprofit sector.
- Federal government.
This event marks the first national-level summit for women veterans since 2011 and will provide a platform to discuss the issues important to women veterans, on topics such as:
- Mental health.
- Military sexual trauma.
- Reproductive health.
- Culture change.
While all of these are important women veterans issues, many attendees visit the summit for the chance to learn more about starting a new business or growing a current one.
One of the more popular aspects of the National Women Veterans Summit is the guidance and workshops for boosting entrepreneurship among women veterans. Women veterans own more than 380,000 small businesses, according to the VA. Not only are these owners seeking new networking opportunities, many entrepreneurs and prospective founders attend the summit for guidance on how to get their business ideas up and running.
To help women in their pursuit of following the American dream and starting their own business or growing a current one, there are many different programs and resources already available for female veterans.
One such program is the VA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, which helps veterans navigate the federal procurement system and increase participation.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also has several programs and offers several grants for women veterans. Some of these grants include the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship and the San Antonio Lift Fund, a seven-week entrepreneurship program. Late last year, the SBA and the VA partnered together to provide $300,000 in funding for women and veteran-owned businesses by granting up to six awards of at least $25,000.
The Coalition for Veteran Owned Business serves entrepreneurial military veterans by connecting them with additional programs for education and training on commerce and supplier opportunities.
For those individuals who need a place to network, collaborate and exchange ideas, Women As Veteran Entrepreneurs provides a forum for small-business owners to connect with subcontracting and mentoring opportunities, strategic information, business teaming and more.
With a proud history in the military and many outreach programs available, women veterans have many promising entrepreneurial opportunities awaiting them when they finish their service to our country.