For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

See also: In The Military

Program helps vets in
owning franchise business

Question: I am interested in buying a franchise business and, as a veteran, I was wondering if the Department of Veterans Affairs has a program that will help me.

Answer: Owning a franchise operation is now more affordable for veterans, under the veterans transition franchise initiative, commonly known as "VetFran." It allows veterans to acquire a franchise with a down payment of 10 percent or less of the initial franchise cost, which generally ranges from $45,000 to $150,000 for a small business. Franchising companies absorb the difference.

International Franchise Association, VetFran's sponsor, first introduced the program in the early 1990s as a way for franchisers to express gratitude to military members for their service during the Gulf War. The current war against terrorism has rekindled interest in extending franchise opportunities to veterans. A Hawaii veteran recently became the first to acquire a franchise under the revitalized VetFran program, obtaining a franchise for a technology supplier based in Garden Grove, Calif. He paid $40,000 instead of the $60,000 he would have paid without VetFran.

VetFran is limited to franchises with initial investments up to $150,000, the maximum loan amount on which the Small Business Association offers 85 percent loan guarantees. So far, nearly 75 franchisers are participating.

For more information on VetFran, contact the VA benefits and services at 433-1000.

Q: What is the latest on Gulf War research funding by the VA?

A: The VA plans to make available up to $20 million for research into Gulf War illnesses during fiscal year 2004, twice the amount spent by VA in any previous year. The VA also plans to create a special center dedicated to medical imaging technologies. These technologies are important to understanding Gulf War illnesses, as well as other conditions important to veterans.

To date, the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, and VA have spent $213 million on 224 research projects to answer questions surrounding Gulf War illnesses. If you are interested in obtaining more in formation about Gulf War illnesses and the current research activities, call the VA at 433-0600.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran,
call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin,
can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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