November 11, 2009 // Franchising.com // Washington, D.C. --- Veterans Day for U.S. Army veteran Brian Gadson will be even more special this year. He's just signed up for a different tour of duty, becoming the 1,500th veteran to buy a franchise small business using discounts offered by the International Franchise Association's "VetFran" program.
Gadson will soon open a Meineke Car Care Center in St. Louis. Meineke, one of the top 10 companies that sell franchises to veterans through VetFran, is the second largest automotive service franchise in the Americas with approximately 900 worldwide locations.
"Meineke Car Care Centers is extremely proud to have our franchisee, Brian Gadson, recognized as the 1,500th veteran to purchase a franchise under the VetFran program," said Kenneth Walker, CEO of parent company Driven Brands Inc. "Meineke is also proud that in 2009 we reached our personal goal of providing $500,000 in VetFran discounts. We are sincerely honored to have these great individuals who have served our country so well as part of the Meineke Car Care Centers team."
Initially launched during the Gulf War nearly 20 years ago, the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, commonly known as VetFran, was re-established following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Since then, nearly 400 IFA-member franchise systems have volunteered to offer financial incentives to help honorably-discharged veterans become franchise small-business owners.
VetFran gets no government funding but is officially endorsed by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs' Center for Veterans Enterprise which helps promote small-business ownership for veterans and named IFA a "Champion of Veterans Enterprise in 2003." The award-winning program was also recently tapped by the American Society of Association Executives to receive its Award of Excellence for creating an "outstanding program which has resulted in significant benefit to American society."
More veteran-owned franchises are soon to open. During the most recent survey of participating companies, IFA learned that more than 200 franchise agreements were in various stages of negotiation as well.
Congress is also displaying interest in helping veterans become franchisees. New legislation designed to aid veterans in buying franchises was introduced recently by U.S. Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) and Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). The Help Veterans Own Franchise Act, H.R. 2672, would provide a tax credit for franchise businesses that offer qualified veterans a discounted initial franchise fee.