Over the next few years, more than 1 million veterans will be transitioning out of active duty, and most say that finding employment is their biggest challenge. Yet thousands of former service members have found success through franchising. According to a recent study by the International Franchise Association, 1 in 7 franchises is veteran-owned, generating more than $41 billion.
That's no surprise: Veterans are results-oriented and value teamwork, and franchise business models not only enable service members to utilize their leadership skills but provide access to a trusted network of franchise owners willing to share advice and offer counsel — something veterans welcome as they struggle to find quality jobs.
Many have taken this leap through programs such as the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, known as VetFran. Launched in 1991 to assist military returning from the first Gulf War, VetFran encourages franchisors to provide financial incentives, training and mentoring to veterans interested in franchise ownership or a career path in franchising. Currently, more than 650 International Franchise Association members participate in the program.
"Quite a few retiring military struggle to find quality jobs. Franchising enables them to handpick a career opportunity for themselves," said Eric Stites, a former first-class petty officer with the U.S. Navy and current chairman of VetFran and CEO of the "Franchise Business Review."
Here are eight former service members who went from active duty to active business owners.