By JOYCE M. ROSENBERGNEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The Small Business Administration is starting a program to increase bank lending to veterans. The agency said Tuesday it's launching the SBA Veteran Pledge Initiative, aimed at raising business loans to veterans by 5 percent a year for the next five years. More than 120 banks across the country, including many major banks, are making the pledge. The SBA says the program is expected to help 2,000 veterans get loans totaling $475 million over the life of the program. SBA head Karen Mills told The Associated Press the agency started the program after finding there was a gap in lending to veterans. The ongoing reduction of troops in Afghanistan, which follows the withdrawal of troops in Iraq, is expected to increase demand for business loans from veterans.