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Hon. Bill Flores

The Honorable Bill Flores, Majority Member, Committee on Veterans' Affairs

I want to thank Chairman Jeff Miller and Ranking Member Michael Michaud for holding this hearing regarding what the public sector can learn from private companies about recruiting and employing our nation’s veterans. I believe that we should help our veterans gain the tools for success once they have transitioned from service. These men and women made commitments to selflessly serve our country and we should provide them an effective transition into the civilian workforce.

This hearing today is an expansion of a similar hearing I held last year in Waco, TX with my fellow Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity colleague Rep. Mark Takano. That hearing entitled “Texas’ Innovative Approaches to Jobs and Employment for Veterans” highlighted the employment opportunities for veterans in Texas, specifically demonstrating the fertile and versatile employer environments, hiring programs and educational opportunities that exist in my state. We heard from companies, educational institutions, and state agencies on what they have been doing to facilitate the hiring of Texas Veterans.

We are lucky that the unemployment rate for veterans in Texas was 3.6% for the month of December, which is well below the national average of 5.5%.

This difference is due, in part, to our great state’s focus on pro-growth policies, low taxes, and efficient and innovative government programs that partner with the private and non-profit sector to give unemployed veterans the little boost they need to be successful. 

Texas has long standing commitment to the military and those who have served which is another major reason for our success. This is shown not only in the priority our small and large businesses place on hiring veterans, but on the policies, programs, and benefits our institutions of higher learning offer to these heroes.

It is exceptional that our hearing demonstrated the laudable efforts of the private sector, and has resulted in a hearing looking at the national efforts from our five witnesses today. Not only did our hearing in Texas result in valuable information and demonstrated how Texas can be a model for other states, but it also resulted in outstanding legislation that can help employ veterans.

During our hearing in Texas, Ms. Mary Thompson, Dwyer Group member and local owner of Mr. Rooter’s plumbing services, testified that many veterans encounter difficulties when faced with excessive start up fees required with starting a franchise. To address these obstacles, Rep. Takano and I introduced the bipartisan H.R. 3725, the Veterans Entrepreneurs Act.

This legislation will assist veteran entrepreneurs in transitioning to the private sector after their military service by reducing both the red tape and the costs of starting a franchise to help them become small business owners. It will make it easier for veterans to own small business franchises by establishing a tax credit for veteran franchisees equal to 25 percent of the franchise fee incurred. This tax credit will help offset the initial start up costs for a franchise business which is often out of reach for many veterans.

With self-starting and “know-how” skills all veterans are trained with, many are especially well suited for business ownership and self employment. Given these qualities, the franchise model with its ready-made clientele and proven track record of success provides a great opportunity for our veterans looking to open a small business. While upwards of 70 percent of pure startups fail within the first 10 years, investing in one’s own franchise with its training, established customers, and model has a much greater probability of success.

We must continue to promote private sector efforts to hire veterans as well as look for innovative ways to empower veterans to be entrepreneurs and small business owners. The more veterans we have acquiring and creating jobs, the more our economy will continue to grow benefiting both our veterans and our nation

Again, I am excited about the hearing and testimony today. As a former businessman myself, I know that jobs for veterans start and end with continued commitment from American enterprise.