WASHINGTON - Senator John F. Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today announced that reservists called to duty are able to take advantage of financial relief available through the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act.

"In 1999, when reservists were called to duty in Kosovo, I wrote and succeeded in passing a law that protects small businesses that lose a key employee to active duty, especially when a small business owner is called to serve," said Senator John Kerry. "I wanted to safeguard future reservists against the losses to their colleagues in the Persian Gulf War who were also small business owners and came home to find their businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, or were forced to layoff employees or go out of business. As a result of the law we passed, you will have access to low-interest disaster loans designed to keep your business afloat, you will be able to defer your SBA loan payments, and you, or the person you leave in charge, will receive counseling and training through the Small Business Administration."

The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act offers small businessmen and women assistance during times of crisis when reservists are called to report for active military duty. Deferred loan payments and a reduction in interest rates for direct loans - including disaster loans - are authorizations included in the assistance package. The statute also provides for disaster loans to provide interim operating capital, as well as counseling and training programs for employees left to keep the business afloat.

In order to prevent the kind of economic casualties experienced in the wake of Operation Desert Storm, Senator Kerry proposed the reservist relief fund for Reserve Officers deployed to Kosovo in 1999. Small Business owners who qualify for relief assistance are encouraged to call their local Small Business Administration field office or consult the SBA's website, http://www.sba.gov