Veteran small business owners have access to a variety of federally sponsored small business programs.
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But thanks to recent legislation, service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs have a special advantage in the federal contract marketplace.
The Veterans Benefit Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183) established a special procurement program for small businesses (or "small business concerns") owned by service-disabled veterans. In simple English, this means that disabled veteran entrepreneurs now have a competitive advantage in the awarding of federal contracts. Under certain conditions, federal agencies have the authority to move service-disabled veteran-owned companies to the top of the queue and to award them larger contracts.
What are the requirements?
Government contracts for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses aren't automatic. There are certain requirements you'll have to meet to qualify for the program. For starters, your company must be a small business concern that is at least 51% owned by service-disabled veterans. Management and daily operations must also be controlled by at least one qualified disabled US veteran.
How does the government define a "small business concern"?
The Veterans Benefit Act is very specific about ensuring that Public Law 108–183 is applied exclusively to small business concerns. But just because you consider your company a small business doesn't mean that it meets the government's requirements. Instead, federal regulations clearly define small business concerns according to the standard size of small businesses in your industry. Since this program is implemented by the Social Security Administration, you can find information about your industry's small business concern limitations at their website: www.ssa.gov/oag/sdvosb.
Who qualifies as a "service-disabled veteran"?
To qualify as a service-disabled veteran you need to have been a member of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) who suffered a disability as part of active duty. Individuals who suffered disabilities after their term of service or who received a dishonorable discharge do not qualify for this program.
Is there a certification process?
There is no certification process for the program. Service-disabled veterans "self-represent" their status during the contract procurement process – but the SBA, contract officers, or any interested party can contest a service-disabled veteran-owned business status.