In\u00a0the past five years many\u00a0thousands of U.S. men and women have left their homes, their families and their careers to serve and protect our country. Now as they return home the old job may not have the same appeal.\u00a0 Or they may\u00a0simply be ready\u00a0to transition to civilian life and the next stage of their careers.\u00a0 The SBA, through\u00a0nearly 800\u00a0lending institutions across the country,\u00a0has developed a program to encourage and support our service men and women in their entrepreneurial dreams. It's called the Patriot Express Loan initiative and according to a recent press release, they have loaned over $100 million\u00a0to service men and women interested in starting or expanding a business: "In the eight months since its launch, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Patriot Express Loan Initiative has produced 1,007 SBA guaranteed loans amounting to more than $100 million, with an average loan amount of nearly $101,000, the SBA announced today." Who is eligible? "Military community members including veterans, service-disabled veterans, service members leaving active duty, Reservists and National Guard members, current spouses of any of the above, spouses of active duty members, and the widowed spouse of a service member who died during service, or of a service-connected disability." As with all SBA-backed loans, you make the application through an approved\u00a0SBA lender, not through the SBA itself.\u00a0\u00a0Download the spreadsheet list of approved Patriot Express lenders.\u00a0 If you or someone you know\u00a0is interested in\u00a0a Patriot Express Loan, recommend that they first complete the SBA Small Business Readiness Assessment tool.\u00a0 The Readiness Assessment tool is a self-quiz that will automatically score itself.\u00a0 It will also provide you with a list of of suggested next steps. You'll want to take the time to think through different scenarios for your business.\u00a0 The SBA offers tools and resources which will help with such decisions as choosing a business structure. See also Joel Libava's recent article:\u00a0 Is Franchising a Viable Option For Veterans?