NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- President Barack Obama declared last month that the remaining military troops in Iraq would come home by the end of the year, a relief for thousands of families, but it means that the number of unemployed veterans is about to get bigger. Like young entrepreneurs, military vets are a sector in the job pool that has staggeringly high unemployment rates. The post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate is at 12%, according to the International Franchise Association. (Veterans under 25 have it even worse; unemployment rates hover near 22%).
The 1-800-GOT-JUNK chain offers veterans a 50% discount off of every second territory they buy, part of a larger effort to ensure returning soldiers have work.
It is this alarming number that has Obama urging the private sector to extend jobs to vets. Along with other measures (for instance, the Senate approved legislation Thursday to incentivize businesses to hire veterans and "wounded warriors" by offering tax credits), one area where veterans can feel confident they'll find jobs is in the franchise community. The International Franchise Association, in conjunction with the White House and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, launched an initiative Thursday to recruit 75,000 veterans and 5,000 wounded warriors by 2014 into the franchise industry. The initiative, Operation Enduring Opportunity, kicked off by first lady Michelle Obama in Washington and by franchises in 10 other U.S. cities, is part of the White House Joining Forces Initiative. The initiative is to provide jobs either owning or working at a franchise, and becoming a franchisee seems a natural fit for veterans. They already own more than 66,000 franchised establishments providing jobs for 815,000 workers, according to the U.S. Census. "With its rapid training opportunities, defined structure and systems and need for operational excellence, franchising provides an ideal structure to enable returning veterans to become leaders of and productive participants in the U.S. economy," IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira says. The initiative expands on the IFA's long-term VetFran program, in which more than 400 franchised companies provide special incentives, mainly in discounting the franchise fee, to veterans to own their own business. Here are a few of the companies that provide incentives for veterans to open up a franchise: