Purchasing from service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) is a great way for government healthcare buyers to properly thank our nation’s heroes and help their facilities achieve their goals.
For many years, veterans have played a key role in our nation’s business sector. These brave men and women have served our country and learned the values of leadership, perseverance and determination. All these skills have prepared them to become successful entrepreneurs. A veteran-owned small business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans. US policy mandates that small businesses be given a fair chance to compete within the federal marketplace. The SBA enforces that “small businesses have the maximum practical opportunity to participate in providing goods and services to the Federal Government” (SBA). Veteran-owned businesses are an important part of the economy as they make up 7.5 % of the country’s 5.4 million businesses with employees. However, support for these service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) has been on a decline.
SDVOSBs have a 3% government-wide participation goal for the total value of both prime and subcontract awards for each fiscal year. The SBA government-wide procurement scorecard for fiscal year of 2017 showed that veteran-owned small businesses did not achieve their 3% subcontracting goal and came in with a 1.90%. This isn’t the first time we see a decline in participation. In the fiscal year of 2016 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) only achieved a 0.50% for subcontracting and 0.30% for FY2016, despite having a goal of 3%.
We believe that this downward trend can be harmful to our veterans because SDVOSBs aren’t receiving the prioritization they deserve. It’s been reported that approximately 1 million veterans would be returning to civilian life between 2013 and 2018, only to face high unemployment and other transitional challenges (Best, 2013). These veterans with a service-connected disability are struggling to sustain their businesses because they are being placed at the bottom of the totem pole. With SDVOSBs being the only classification that is earned, these businesses shouldn’t have to struggle. Rather, these businesses should be the preferred choice by procurement teams.
Our veterans are facing more challenges every day. Veterans are struggling to find work stability within their careers and can become depressed which may lead to suicide. According to the VA, “many recently discharged Veterans have difficulty with personal relationships or their transition back to civilian life,” and found that veterans had a 22% higher risk for suicide than non-veterans (VA, 2017). Ultimately, if veterans struggle to find job stability or can’t afford to keep their businesses open, they may become depressed which increases their risk for suicide. With 20 veterans killing themselves each day (VA), something’s got to give. Others are struggling with drug addiction which can also lead to homelessness, or death. Buying from SDVOSBs can help improve the quality of life for our veterans by keeping them employed and giving them a sense of purpose to contribute to the workforce. We can help vets find job security, stability, and can help them transition back to civilian life.
In terms of the supply chain, SDVOSBs offer flexibility and the adaptability to respond to a wide range of government agency’s needs. Unlike manufacturers, veteran-owned businesses have the swiftness to shift to their customer’s urgencies and deliver the product or service in the most time-efficient manner possible. This is because these businesses offer variety and variety promotes competition, which by nature reduces costs. We can continue to support those who served our country by helping them grow their businesses. These brave men and women can serve in our communities and it is a great way for our country to repay them for their selfless service.