WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously adopted an amendment authored by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) that will improve a loan program for reservists who face economic hardship after a deployment. Included in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill which cleared the Senate today, the measure gives reservists up to one year to apply for a Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan after they return from active duty and allows reservists to apply for low-interest loans before they are deployed.

"We shouldn't just say thank you to the men and women who fought to protect this country, we should show them we're grateful and help them get back on their feet," said Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "This provision is a key step towards addressing the financial sacrifice being made by many reservists and their families and the economic struggle they face when they return home."

"The men and women of our Armed Forces perform the ultimate job of protecting this country. It is our obligation to provide these men and women with ample opportunities when seeking civilian employment. This provision would improve opportunities for reservists to establish and maintain successful small businesses," Hagel said.

The Kerry-Hagel amendment:
  • Extends from 90 days to one year from the date of discharge the deadline for a reservist-dependent small business to apply for a loan;

  • Directs the Small Business Administration (SBA) to create a pre-consideration process for reservist-dependent small businesses so that they can receive loans immediately upon the reservist being called to active duty;

  • Establishes a coordinated, proactive marketing plan to be conducted by the SBA, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Defense to more effectively get information in the hands of reservists and their families; and

  • Requires the SBA to report back to the Small Business Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the status of this program, as well as additional steps that may be taken to improve it.
  • Since 2002, fewer than 300 loans have been made through this program to reservist-dependent businesses, despite increasing numbers of reservists being deployed. The Kerry-Hagel amendment is also a provision in legislation they introduced yesterday to expand veteran and reservist entrepreneurship. The Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization Act (S. 1005) would expand loan programs for veterans and reservists and create a grant program for reservist-dependent firms that are unable to take on additional debt contingent upon the business providing a viable business plan. For more information on S. 1005, please visit: https://www.sbc.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=271489.