Shaheen Introduces Legislation to Assist Small Businesses Led By National Guard and Reservists
**The National Guard and Reserve Entrepreneurship Support Act would improve access to Small Business Administration (SBA) programs that provide counseling, loan repayment, and emergency assistance**
**Her bill would also direct SBA to work with National Guard and State Adjutant Generals to improve outreach and generate awareness of programs**
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), lead Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, today introduced legislation to improve access to Small Business Administration (SBA) programs for members of the National Guard and Reserves. The Military Reservists Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL), a direct loan program that provides emergency assistance to Guard/Reserve entrepreneurs experiencing hardship due to deployment, and Repayment Deferral for Activity Duty Reservists (Repayment Deferral), which authorizes SBA to work with lenders to defer interest or loan repayment for Guard and Reserves facing similar situations, were established by Congress in 1999 to assist small businesses led by Guardsmen/women and Reservists. Despite the benefits, the programs remain low in use due to unawareness.
Shaheen’s National Guard and Reserve Entrepreneurship Support Act, co-sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), would improve upon the MREIDL and Repayment Deferral programs to make them more accessible to service members. The legislation would restructure the programs so that they are not limited to periods of conflict, reflecting the shift reserve forces have experienced over the past decade from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve.
Recognizing that the underuse of MREIDL and Repayment Deferral is most often due to lack of awareness, Shaheen’s legislation would also direct SBA to work with the National Guard Bureau and State Adjutant Generals to identify existing SBA programs relevant to members of the Guard and Reserves, and develop more targeted and effective outreach, particularly prior to deployment.
“Members of the National Guard and Reserve bravely defend our nation, and they should deploy with the peace of mind that their businesses will not suffer while they are away,” said Senator Shaheen. “My legislation makes commonsense changes to two important programs that will not only benefit service members but also our local communities and economy. Citizen soldiers are a fundamental part of our nation’s military, and we need to do everything we can to support their service.”
“Both the National Guard and small businesses are foundational threads in the fabric of Vermont,” said Senator Leahy. “I’m pleased to support them with this legislation that makes it easier for veterans and service members to turn their ideas into a reality. Empowering the entrepreneurial spirit in this and other ways makes a real difference for Vermonters and for our communities.”
“Helping Guard small-business owners stay afloat during their times of military service helps us retain some of our smartest and most-driven men and women,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, President of National Guard Association of the United States. “Senator Shaheen’s National Guard and Reserve Entrepreneurship Support Act does just that. The loans, training, counseling and emergency assistance it provides will go a long way toward helping our small-business in uniform and their families. It will also keep that invaluable entrepreneurial spirt alive and well in our ranks.”