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Veterans help drive economic freedom too

This Veterans Day, we want to thank all of our military veterans, including the millions of Americans who not only unselfishly served our nation in United States Armed Forces, but returned to civilian life and continued their service to the country through entrepreneurship and job creation.

Military veterans make up a big portion of business ownership. According to, more than 2.4 million U.S. businesses are owned by veterans, about nine percent of all American firms. They employ 5.8 million employees and dole out $210 billion in annual payroll. All of this business activity pumps $1.2 trillion into the American economy. (See infographic below for more facts and figures about entrepreneurs who are veterans.)

Whether it’s the difficulty of transitioning back to an ordinary working civilian life, or the organizational skills and risk-tolerance developed during military training, veterans have been more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to become entrepreneurs – at least 45 percent more likely, according to a study by the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy.

The Veterans United Network lists Fortune 500 companies and other well-known businesses whose CEOs are veterans – companies whose products and services impact our lives every day:

  • 24 Hour Fitness, led by Carl Liebert III, who served two years aboard a Navy vessel as a supply officer
  • 7-Eleven, led by Joe DePinto, who served five years as an Army field artillery officer
  • Casey’s General Stores, led by Robert Myers, who served 22 years in the Army before retiring as a lieutenant colonel
  • FedEx, founded and led by Frederick Smith, who served four years in the Marine Corps
  • General Motors, led by Daniel Akerson, who served five years as an officer on a Navy destroyer
  • Johnson & Johnson, led by Alex Gorsky, who served six years in the Army, earning a Ranger tab and Airborne wings
  • Lockheed Martin, led by Robert Stevens, who served in the Marines
  • Procter & Gamble, led by Robert McDonald, who served for five years as a captain in the Army
  • USAA, led by Josue Robles, who served for 28 years in the Army, with posts in Korea, Vietnam, Germany and Spain
  • Verizon Communications, led by Lowell McAdam, who served six years in the Navy as a Seabee

Again, to our nation’s veterans, thank you for all the ways you serve our country. We are forever indebted.

By the Numbers: U.S. Veteran-Owned Businesses (Infographic)