(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBC), and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Ranking Member of the SBC, sent a letter today to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking for a comprehensive review of the role that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and other federal agencies play in helping veterans, reservists and their spouses gain financial literacy and increase their access to capital.
In their letter, the Senators wrote: “Veterans, in particular, often submit more applications for loans, lines of credit and cash advances than their nonveteran counterparts but obtain less financing than requested. Moreover, veteran-owned small businesses’ loan approval rates were lower than their civilian counterparts.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.

Chair Shaheen and Ranking Member Ernst highlighted the SBC’s November 2023 hearing: “Veteran Entrepreneurship: From Service to Small Business Success.” The testimony given at the hearing, the Senators said, calls attention to the many issues that veterans face when attempting to start or grow a small business and the lack of data available to the federal agencies attempting to help them.

As a long-time member of the SBC, and former small business owner, Chair Shaheen is a fierce advocate for New Hampshire’s—and America’s—veteran small business community. In July 2015, President Obama signed into law Shaheen’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Act, a bill to lower the cost of SBA loan programs designed to help veterans start and grow their small businesses. In November, Senator Shaheen introduced the Heroes Business Opportunity Act, which would waive SBA’s upfront fees for loans of up to $1 million to veteran-owned small businesses. Shaheen has also spearheaded additional efforts in the Senate to support military families. In government funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2022, Shaheen successfully secured $3 million to implement her bipartisan legislation to support military spouses. The legislation improves the transferability of military spouses’ occupational licenses and helps alleviate the burden spouses endure from having to constantly re-register their small businesses as they move from state to state with their families. In FY 2023 government funding legislation, Shaheen supported the inclusion of $25 million for the Beyond Yellow Ribbon (BYR) program, which funds the New Hampshire National Guard’s Care Coordination Program. BYR programs provide outreach services to troops returning from deployment, including health care, marriage and financial counseling, substance misuse treatment and mental health services.

Shaheen previously helped introduce legislation to amend the tax code to provide businesses a financial incentive to hire military spouses and create new flexible spending accounts (FSAs) that make it easier for military families to afford childcare. In late 2022, Shaheen joined a bipartisan group of Senators in sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, calling on him to use all tools and authorities at his disposal to protect military families from private housing contractors that are not providing protections guaranteed by the military tenant’s bill of rights.