Veterans day shouldn’t be one day only.

A friend in advertising posted this video on Facebook, it had over four million views yesterday and close to 8 million today.

He said “We look, but do we see?”

He’s an award-winning copywriter and his perspectives are often insightful, thought provoking and almost always pithy. He says more with less than most I know. I watched the video, mostly because he was recommending it- and it had a before and after pic- and the before had “US ARMY VETERAN” superimposed. I’m in that group, I should watch.

The video, which I assume you’ve now watched, shows a guy getting a haircut and a suit. This somehow is supposed to say we’ve transformed a homeless drunk vet into a productive, acceptable part of society. When the call for donations came at the end- it just felt shameless to me. Ripping off the Dove “Evolution of Beauty” award-winning spot is one thing- turning it into a donation machine is another.  For those of you who don’t know about the Dove spot- it’s an award-winning ad that isn’t an ad for Dove:

When I see this “Homeless Veteran Timelapse Transformation” I see propagation of a stereotype of our veterans. That somehow, we all become drunk, homeless, unemployed. Yes, I full well know that the unemployed figures tell us that something like 26% of our vets are unemployed- about the same rate as minority high school dropouts or maybe a little higher. But, there are a lot of veterans who aren’t unemployed- or drunks or drug users. In fact, there are a whole bunch of them who own businesses and hire other veterans. Check out the National Veteran Owned Business Association NaVOBA, an organization that’s run by vets to help grow awareness for supporting the notion of “Buying Veteran.”

Many states have adopted preferences for buying from vet-owned businesses. Unfortunately, Ohio isn’t one of them. When you consider that Raj Soin, an Asian Indian built MTC into a global powerhouse based on being an 8a firm (one the government gives preference to based on being minority owned) and that government contracts go to 8a’s ahead of those owned by Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses SDVOBs, you have to wonder if our country really values its veterans.  I don’t know the exact stat- but, I do know that veteran-owned businesses are way more likely to hire vets than non-veteran owned businesses- and that vets better understand other vets. It’s time this country stopped paying lip-service to military service and put SDVOBs at the top of the pecking order for government contracts.

The other change that needs to happen in government contracting to put real teeth into a buy veteran preference program is that size standards for “small businesses” not include companies that gross $150M a year. Really? That’s a small business? Changing the requirements for a GSA schedule (an overly complicated contract with the government to provide goods and services at an “appropriate” rate) from being a 200-page plus monstrosity to something more like a 1040ez for small businesses under $10M a year. This is a proposal I wrote back in 2005 that got about a minute’s worth of attention on the Hill. GSA EZ Schedule Proposal

There is an old proverb- give a man a fish and eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime. If our country wants to help our vets, who now make up around only a single percent of our population, yet give us the freedom and protect our democracy, from enemies foreign and domestic as the saying goes- it’s time to build a more friendly vet support network. A haircut and a suit are just window dressing.

Jobs and opportunities are what will make the difference.

Thank you for your service to all my veteran brethren. May your sacrifices never be forgotten or in vain.

 

How much does it cost to get a government contract?

I think I’m starting to see a pattern. I’ve bid on a few smaller government projects as an SDVOB (Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business) which is supposed to help my small business get a piece of the government. Even when I’m the low bidder, it somehow never comes our way.

So when I saw a small local company win a contract (a company I’d never heard of before) the first place I looked was the FEC donations pages. But first, the DBJ article:

A local defense contractor has seen a flurry of new activity, including a $3.7 million deal for a high-profile client.

Beavercreek-based Sawdey Solutions Services Inc. was recently awarded a one-year contract to provide program management support services for the Defense Department’s comptroller.

As a result, the 58-employee company is gearing up to hire at least 14 people who will be stationed in Virginia at the Defense Logistics Agency, which issued the contract. About half of Sawdey Solutions’ workers are in the Dayton area.

Connie Sawdey, president of the company, said her small business was hand-picked for the latest job, which is a big deal. She expects the award to boost the company’s reputation and past-performance record, which is critical to being competitive in the defense industry.

via Sawdey Solutions corrals contract – Dayton Business Journal.

Then to the FEC Database:

Contributions to Political Committees

SAWDEY, CONSTANCE
CENTERVILLE, OH 45458
SAWDEY SOLUTION SERVICES

   TURNER, MICHAEL R REP
VIA CITIZENS FOR TURNER
09/12/2005 500.00 25971192115
09/18/2007 1000.00 27931394968
06/01/2009 2000.00 29934270728
08/31/2010 2000.00 11930417557

SAWDEY, CONSTANCE MRS.
CENTERVILLE, OH 45458
SAWDEY SOLUTION SERVICES

   TURNER, MICHAEL R REP
VIA CITIZENS FOR TURNER
09/02/2011 1000.00 11952654178

SAWDEY, JEFFREY
CENTERVILLE, OH 45458
BEST EFFORTS

   AUSTRIA, STEVE C
VIA STEVE AUSTRIA FOR CONGRESS
04/29/2010 500.00 10990876705

SAWDEY, JEFFREY
CENTERVILLE, OH 45458
SAWDEY SOLUTION SERVICES

   TURNER, MICHAEL R REP
VIA CITIZENS FOR TURNER
08/02/2006 1000.00 27960058702
08/04/2006 1000.00 27960058703

SAWDEY, JEFFREY MR.
CENTERVILLE, OH 45458
SAWDEY SOLUTION SERVICES

   TURNER, MICHAEL R REP
VIA CITIZENS FOR TURNER
08/12/2007 1000.00 27931394968
08/06/2008 1000.00 28933530484

So the answer is…. in this case, $11,000

Note, no presidential donations, no other candidate donations, no party donations- all to Mike Turner and Steve Austria.

Unlike my donation page, or Ron Paul’s, or the President’s, Mike Turner doesn’t require people to say that they aren’t a government contractor. He just makes sure they aren’t a foreigner and giving too much per cycle:

I affirm that the following statements are true and accurate:

By submitting your contribution you are acknowledging that you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident and that this contribution is not made from any funds associated with a corporation, labor organization, or national bank.

Contributions to Citizens for Turner are not tax deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes. The maximum one individual may contribute is $2,500 per election. Federal law requires political committees to use their best efforts to obtain and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 in a calendar year. Corporations and foreign nationals without a green card are prohibited from contributing.

via Contribute to Mike Turner’s campaign today! :: Citizens for Turner – Piryx.

And the one contract my firm was recently dismissed from as a subcontractor (after 7 months of providing the technical basis of performing the contract for free)- a smaller VA contract, I went and looked, the Prime had given $1,000 to the RNC.

You won’t see my name on a donation of over $250 to a congressman, is that why I never see my name on a government contract?

Of course lying is still constitutional

With an increasing number of “Beltway Patriots” running this country and our military defense budget- lying about past military service had become sport. So, Congress decided to do something about it with the “Stolen Valor Act” back in 2006.

Problem was- it made lying punishable by imprisonment- which if it had been extended to Congress – they’d be meeting in prison.

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld an earlier ruling by three of its members that a law making it illegal to lie about being a military hero violates free speech.The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision strikes down the so-called Stolen Valor Act passed by Congress in 2006.

via Federal court: Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional – San Jose Mercury News.

As a veteran, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into jerks telling me they were in Special Forces- and when confronted with my unit coin– I’ve drawn a blank stare.

The reality is- our country doesn’t value integrity or military service anymore. We reward CEOs who destroy our economy, we elect idiots who embarrass us, and we pass a lot of laws that we don’t enforce- including one requiring 3% of all government contracts are supposed to go to Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses– and then ignore it.

Lip service is the best we can do these days- military service has been trivialized.

If you want to “Thank a Vet” – start here: Buy Veteran. It’s a voluntary program.

Is Dayton a land of opportunity for Veterans?

We’ve heard the Richard Florida argument for a culture centered around the “Creative Class” as a driver of economic prosperity. Yet, the “creative class” is somewhat a matter of opinion- and it’s something that any community could have a shot at.

The Dayton Development Coalition talks about their four key focuses as drivers of economic development.

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing
The unique and compelling nature of our industry allows us to quickly transform innovations into processes and products.

Aerospace R&D
The advances achieved by our Aerospace R&D community gives ample evidence that the Air Force Research Laboratory and their hundreds of industry and university partners in our region have formed the preeminent aeronautical research and development center in the world.

Healthcare and Human Sciences
Aeromedical research, training, and acquisition elements are being consolidated into a Center of Excellence for Human Performance at Wright-Patt, accompanied by 21 existing regional hospitals, medical schools, training facilities and human science-focused businesses.

IT / Data Management
The Dayton Region is a global leader in understanding how the innovative use of information can transform people’s lives.

via GetMidwest.com – Dayton Region.

These are all business focuses- and leave out the most critical part: social capital. How do we really get these things done if the people who do these things have a really good reason to operate here instead of elsewhere. Sure, there is the base- with its huge R&D budget, but in a virtual world, that money could be spent here or in San Jose without much difference to the contracting officer.

Having a major military installation nearby is a good economic engine to rely on, but with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq winding down, and our economy in shambles, it would be foolhardy not to expect cutbacks in the military budget.

However, there is one thing the wars have created a bountiful supply of: veterans, and more specifically, service disabled veterans. Besides being a logistics center, WPAFB has a medical center that is serving a multi-state area for transitioning seriously injured vets. We also have the Dayton VA Medical Center- another large treatment facility- toss in the Wright State University with one of the nation’s most accessible campuses with extensive experience in handling students with disabilities and all of a sudden, you start to realize that we may have a strong positioning potential to become a community of choice for disabled veterans to put down roots.

When I was in the Army and traveling from post to post- I could tell which communities embraced their soldiers and which didn’t. Fayettville NC, Augusta GA both seemed to loathe the kids in uniform- while the people of Columbus GA welcomed us and treated us with respect. Dayton has always seemed to be somewhat apathetic- but leaning toward respect. Of course, I also often marveled at the star power on base- when first arriving here I saw more stars on shoulders in one trip to the BX than I’d seen in 2+ years of active duty on an Army post.

With this idea of starting to market Dayton as a great place for disabled veterans to retire and reside- will require additional support of local businesses in their commitment to hire these brave young men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country- but also a strong support network to assist them in starting and running their own businesses. The Federal Government passed a law in 2003 requiring all Federal contracts to have 3% Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) participation- a goal that’s not even remotely close to being met. Quite a few States have also given SDVOB and even Veteran Owned Businesses (VOB) preference in bidding. Ohio has not shown an interest- although they did vote to make military retirement pay not eligible for State income taxes.

For the last four plus years, a small group of which I’m a founding member has worked to support and grow VOBs in the region. We’re the representatives of NaVOBA here in SW Ohio and just received our 501C6 designation as a non-profit.

Vet Biz Now! Flyer for event

Click on image for Printable PDF

This Oct 14th, from 11 to 2 we’ll be hosting our first event, Vet Biz Now, bringing in a nationally recognized expert in the field:

Scott Denniston, former Director of Small Business Programs and the Center for Veterans Enterprise at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will present a status update on Vet Biz opportunities.

Seating is limited for this lunch event at the Hope Hotel at WPAFB in Dayton. Please make reservations at www.vob108.org/vetbiznow $20 includes lunch.

via Vet Biz Now! Oct. 14 2010, Dayton Ohio — VOB108.

Besides Scott discussing the state of Veteran Business opportunities and a status update, VOB108 will be making some presentations of success stories- and highlighting some area VOB that are making a difference.

We welcome you to attend, and ask that if you know any Veterans who own their own business to inform them of this event.

Small business has been one of the saving graces through this economic crisis, with all the programs available and becoming made available to help assist these wounded warriors transition back to civilian life- this could be an effort that is both good for our country and our community and our souls.

Set-asides, preferences, HUBzones and 8a

My business is Ohio EDGE certified, HUBzone certified and an SDVOB. For all that, it’s not done much to help acquire government business. Most of you have no idea what any of that means- and it’s just as well. Not only does doing business with the government require a whole new set of skills and the learning of a new language: govspeak. What takes 4-6 pages to do business in the real world, becomes a 150-page proposal when dealing with the government.

So when the City decides to start creating its own set of preferences for awarding contracts, we get one more set of hoops to jump through and another language to learn:

Key features of the revised Procurement Enhancement Program include:

* Sets annual goals for awarding construction projects — 17 percent for minority businesses, 5 percent for female businesses and 20 percent for small businesses — and all other city contracts out for bid.

* Establishes a local preference for hiring businesses in the city first and county second.

* Helps local minority, female and small businesses get certified for inclusion in the program, provides them with technical assistance and conducts outreach to improve their chances in the city’s bidding process.

* Requires a good-faith effort from major contractors to partner with local minority and female businesses before bidding on contracts.

* Tracks the effectiveness of the program by reviewing the monthly data on spending with minority, female and small businesses.

via City wants more participation from female, minority businesses.

Of course, Greg and I have something to say about all this-so you have a short post and a video to comment on.

Enjoy!