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Financing, help for veterans who own small businesses

Veterans and other members of the military community could be eligible for a variety of low-interest loan programs, according to Raleigh SCORE, a nonprofit association that offers information resources, training, and free counseling.

The Patriot Express Loan Pilot Loan Initiative, created by the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide expedited loans of up to $500,000, is the most popular, according to a recent Raleigh SCORE blog entry. To qualify, at least 51-percent of the company has to be owned and controlled by veterans or military community members.

“Patriot Express loans feature the SBA’s lowest business loan interest rates—generally 2.25 to 4.75 percent over prime depending upon the loan’s size and maturity,” the blog entry states. “The loan can be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, purchases of equipment and/or inventory, working capital, or business-occupied real-estate purchases. Following approval by the lender, most Patriot Express applications receive SBA approval within 24 hours.”

The SBA and its resource partners can also help reservists prepare their business before deployment, manage their businesses, sell goods and services to the government, and obtain other SBA financing and financial assistance.

Veterans can learn more about financing and other small business issues from Raleigh SCORE. For more information, call Raleigh Score at 919-856-4739 or visit its website here.

A chance to help North Carolina veterans

The Veterans Leadership Council is having a fundraiser tomorrow night at the Hilton North Raleigh Midtown on Wake Forest Road. Gov. Pat McCrory has committed to attending and making this one of his first official public events, the council says. The nonprofit is creating a Veterans Life Center at the Umstead Hospital Complex at Butner, hoping to offer emergency and transitional housing, job training, support groups, mental health services and various therapies for 400 veterans a year. The cost is $100 per person. For more information and to RSVP contact Joyce Kohn: or 919-210-3829

You can read more about the Veterans Leadership Council here:

SBA touts programs for veteran business owners

As Veterans Day approaches, the U.S. Small Business Administration says it's continuing to build on its programs for military veterans.

The SBA helps tens of thousands of veterans each year with small business financing, comprehensive business training and counseling and access to federal contracts.

“Around Veterans Day, our thoughts turn to the men and women who are currently serving in the Armed Forces, as well as to all veterans who have made sacrifices and served our country over the years,” stated SBA Administrator Karen Mills in a press release. “When you consider the leadership and management skills our veterans develop while on active and reserve duty, it’s no wonder we see so many of them choose the path of small business ownership.”

Nearly one in 10 small businesses nationwide are veteran-owned, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.  Collectively, these 2.4 million small businesses employ almost 6 million Americans and generate more than $1 trillion in receipts.  In the private sector workforce, veterans are 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.

SBA supports veteran business owners through entrepreneurial training and mentoring, access to capital, and business development opportunities through government contracts.

For more information, visit  and

Job fair for wounded warriors Wednesday in Jacksonville

Wounded, ill or injured veterans in need of work as well as active duty service members who are transitioning to civilian life will be able to meet with representatives of companies that are hiring at a Career Opportunity Day Wednesday at the Jacksonville USO, 9 Tallman St. in Jacksonville.

Dwindling numbers among Civil War vets


The Confederate Soldier's Home, according to Raleigh historian Karl Larson, was established by the state legislature and opened at the corner of New Bern Ave and Tarboro Rd. in 1891. 
"At its height, the campus comprised more than a dozen buildings," Larson said. "Seen in this view are the chapel, two dormitories and the hospital building. After the last resident died in 1938, the home closed. The hospital building was later used by a youth group as a club house for a few years. By 1948 the site was abandoned and the state demolished the buildings. The Division of Motor Vehicles now occupies the site."
In 1946, Simmons Fentress wrote about Wake County's remaining Civil War veteran.
That the passing of 81 winters since Lee and Grant met at Appomattox has left the South with but a few of its fighting men of 1861-65 can be seen clearly from the present picture in North Carolina. For in this State, where 125,000 men left their homes to take up arms against the Yankees, there now live only eight men eligible to have attended the (veterans') reunion.
These eight now reside at homes in eight separate counties for no county in the State now boasts more than a single veteran. The residence of soldiers in a special home was terminated five years ago, when the last occupant of the Confederate Veterans Home at Raleigh moved to Wilmington and died shortly afterward.
Only one of the several hundred Negro body servants who accompanied their masters to war is living in the State today. He is Alfred Blackburn of Yadkin County, body servant to the late Capt. A. Blackburn of Yadkinville.
Wake County's sole remaining wearer of the Confederate field grey (Robert L. Thompson of Raleigh, Route 7) became a centenarian in 1943, and will observe his 103rd birthday at his home 10 miles from Raleigh on November 6. An ardent supporter of the late Franklin Roosevelt, Thompson was at the polls in 1940 to cast a Democratic ballot as the President sidetracked tradition to win election to a third term.
During the War Between the States, "Uncle Bob" Thompson served under Generals Pettigrew and McRae. He held the rank of sergeant, and from Cold Harbor to Appomattox Courthouse was  the highest ranking officer in his company -- his captain and two lieutenants having been killed in action. He saw General Lee many times and recalls that the General was a "mighty fine man and a fine soldier."
Thompson attended regularly Confederate reunions until 1931, when at the age of 88 he traveled to Tampa, Fla., to be with "the boys."
The Wake soldier shouldered a gun when 18 years old and was wounded in the campaign around Spottsylvania. He was in the front lines at Petersburg when Grant's forces broke through, but missed the decisive engagements at Gettysburg.
Tar Heel veterans of the Confederacy's fight for existence now receive $72 monthly from the State of North Carolina. That figure was adopted by the 1945 General Assembly, which more than doubled the $30 per month pensions being paid the 12 veterans then alive.
Many North Carolina counties boast several of the Confederate widows, and 13 currently reside in Wake County. For these women, ... the State maintains a home at Fayetteville. Its capacity is only 42, and its rooms are always filled.
That but a few of the Confederacy's sons could be alive today is illustrated by the fact that a boy enlisting at the April, 1861, start of the war, whose age was 18 -- the minimum age for enlistments at that time -- would today be a ripe 103. The fact that some veterans 97 and 98 years old are alive today is explained in that some men were recruited in the latter days of the war upon reaching the minimum age, and that not a few boys misrepresented their ages in order to gain admission to the fighting ranks.
North Carolina's troops laid claim after the war to being "first at Bethel, fartherest at Gettysburg and Chicamauga, and last at Appomattox." -- The News & Observer 10/14/1946

Obama sends big cheese to deliver small check in Raleigh

When high-level federal officials come down to Raleigh from Washington, they’re usually here to snip ribbons on multi-million-dollar construction projects, or to hand out checks with lots of commas and zeroes.

The check delivered to Wake County Wednesday by Ray LaHood, President Barack Obama’s transportation secretary, was for a mere $601,661.

That’s just 1.7 percent of a total $34.6 million in grants awarded Wednesday in 55 communities across the United States for the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, a new program to improve transportation options for veterans and military families.

Wake County Human Services will use the money to establish a 24-hour “one call, one click” communication center to improve the transportation services it provides to rural residents through Medicaid, public health and other programs.

“This will make it possible for veterans and their families to check bus and van schedules online or over the phone, or to schedule rides with vanpools and private transportation companies,” LaHood said, flanked by local veterans in a ceremony at Wake County’s A.A. Thompson Center in East Raleigh. ... [MORE]

LaHood will announce Wake transportation grant in Raleigh Wednesday

Ray LaHood, the U.S. transportation secretary, will visit Raleigh Wednesday to announce a federal grant that will help Wake County Human Services establish a “one-call / one-click” telephone and Internet transportation communication center.

The center will improve public access to the county's Wake Coordinated Transportation Services provided to rural residents through Medicaid, public health and other programs.

Wake County is receiving a share of $34 million in grants to be awarded across the country in the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative. The program is aimed at improving transportation services for military families, wounded veterans and other people with disabilities.  Veterans make up 16 percent of the county population.

LaHood will speak at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Wake County’s A.A. Thompson Center, 567 E. Hargett St.

Honor Flight Photos II

More thoughts on the Honor Flight:

I mentioned in the previous blog post Shawn Rocco's photos in our photo gallery about yesterday's flight.  Photographer Travis Long was at RDU to shoot pictures of the vets returning from D.C.  You can see his pictures in the gallery now, after Shawn's.  It was a pretty amazing scene at the airport when the veterans came in, as Travis described it to me.

After the plane landed, the veterans got off and they were escorted from the terminal through an atrium to the parking deck.  They were preceded by a bagpiper, who met them at the USAirways gate (the airline provided the flight).  They were led through the airport by an honor guard made up of Marines and NC National Guard.  I wish I had been there to see that.

When the vets got to the front of Terminal 1 and emerged into view in the parking garage atrium, the crowd of famly and friends and well-wishers (around 500 by Travis' estimate) erupted into cheers.  The National Guard band played. There were veterans from other wars, and Cub Scouts. You can see in Travis' photos the crowd lining the people-mover (which the airport had thoughtfully shut down to make for a steadier walkway for the elderly vets), waving American flags and holding ballons, shaking hands with the veterans.

"It was pretty cool, actually," said Travis.

Mindy Hamlin, the airport's spokeswoman, told me that one veteran was so taken with the reception, he said, "This is better than winning the lottery."

Honor Flight photos


I recommend that you check out Shawn Rocco's photo gallery on today's Honor Flight of local vets to DC to see the World War II Memorial.  My favorite is the one shown here of Raymond Sugg being hugged by a TSA agent at RDU before the flight left for Washington.

I relate to this because the photo of Sugg reminded me of my late father, who I wish I had taken to the memorial. My father was a World War II veteran.  He enlisted out of the University of New Hampshire in 1942 when he was 18, then spent the next three years with a mobile unit in China, Burma and India, intercepting Japanese radio transmissions. 

I grew up watching Hollywood actors in their 30's fighting celluloid Germans and Japanese in movies. The reality is that the many of the soldiers were teenagers like my dad who wanted nothing more than to finish the job and get the heck home to high school sweethearts like my mom.

It is terrific that organizations like Triangle Flight of Honor are giving World War II veterans this big thank-you, and showing them that 65-plus years later, their service has not been forgotten.

N.C. groups get money to help homeless veterans

Military veterans in North Carolina will receive job training under grants awarded today by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.

In Raleigh, StepUp Ministry received a grant of $299,910, while in the western part of the state the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry received a $200,000 grant.

In all, 97 grants totaling more than $24 million were awarded to help approximately 14,000 veterans.

Funds were awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and community organizations. 

The grant monies will be used for occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, including follow-up services.  The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program is the only federal program that focuses exclusively on employment of veterans who are homeless.
For information on the StepUp Ministry, go here.

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