Veteran Franchisees on the Front Lines


While VetFran has provided numerous opportunities for veterans for nearly 30 years, the best is yet to come.

By Radim Dragomaca

It was 1991 when Don Dwyer Sr., the founder of the Dwyer Group, now – Neighborly – founded the VetFran Program to give back to veterans returning from the Gulf War. Informed by his own life of service, Don Dwyer’s bold vision for a franchise brand that embraced the skills and values shared by veterans has since become an industry-wide initiative encompassing nearly 600 companies.

During its nearly three decades, the program’s mission has been a rallying cry that has seen franchising become one of the most veteran-friendly and veteran-ready segments of the U.S. economy. Educating veterans about entrepreneurship and franchising and connecting them with franchisors and resource partners is a strength decades in the making. VetFran is changing and growing, and we want you to be a part of this next chapter – today.

A New Chapter

Over the course of 28 years, the VetFran message has gone coast to coast and to nearly every state in the country, taking the form of speeches, expert panels, White House announcements, expo sessions, career fairs and articles in every kind of publication you can imagine. Franchisors have connected with veterans and veterans with educators and resource partners, but among the tens of thousands of connections the program has made, one voice has been underrepresented.

When a veteran follows the path to prosperity illuminated by VetFran’s efforts and they become a franchisee, what they may not realize is that they are also becoming the best kind of ambassador for the VetFran message. There’s no one better to tell the story of veterans in franchising than a veteran who has walked that path, and there’s no one veterans want to hear from more than someone who has lived that experience.

During this past month, VetFran has opened a brand new portal – – where the thousands of veteran franchisees from our VetFran member brands can register and join the new nationwide VetFran network. A program that has served as a bridge between franchisors and the veterans community is expanding to become a nexus for franchisors, franchisees and entrepreneurial veterans to better embody and convey the story of veterans in franchising.

Call of Duty

If you are a veteran franchisee, keep reading. If you are a franchisor who has or wants to have more veteran franchisees, this is the one article of 2019 that you need to share with them. VetFran has opened a new tier of opportunities for veteran franchisees and you don’t want to miss out on them. After taking the five minutes it takes to register your veteran-owned franchise location, the following opportunities become open to you:

1: Consumers want to support veterans. Veteran-owned mom-and-pop shops often wear their story of service on their sleeve, but how many consumers know that the PuroClean, the Grease Monkey or the FirstLight Home Care in their community is owned by a veteran? By registering on, veteran-owned franchises can be displayed on a consumer-facing nationwide map of veteran-owned franchise businesses, taking pride in the service and values that underpin a veteran franchisee’s business.

2: Once registered, a veteran franchisee can volunteer to do a VetFran event in their local community, getting matched to one of our nearly 1,100 partner venues around the country to speak to their fellow veterans about their own journey into franchising. Armed with their own story, as well as VetFran’s educational resources, an hour-long community presentation can change the lives of countless veterans around the country coming to hear one of their own talk about entrepreneurship and their own authentic experience.

3: If you want to reach a broader audience beyond a single event a year, you can let us know you’d like to write and publish an op-ed with VetFran, sharing your stories not just with the broader readership of your local paper, but the wider world. VetFran staff will help you publish your own story, connecting the dots from your training and service to your own personal journey into entrepreneurship and giving back. Sharing your story can inspire many people.

4: In today’s interconnected social media world, sometimes the best story-telling mediums aren’t the broadsheets or the community centers, but instead the digital world. Share your story with us on social media, and we’ll share it with the franchise and veterans community for you. We don’t tell success stories just for the sake of telling them, we want veterans who are unsure of their own path or unsure of how to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams to know there are veterans out there like them who have done it, and let them learn from their lessons.

5: If you’re just busy running your small business and being listed on our interactive map of veteran-owned franchises is more than enough for now, stay in touch with us and sign up for our newsletter and emails. When you're ready, all the other opportunities the program offers veteran franchisees will be waiting.

An Ever-Growing Community

Expanding VetFran opportunities to veteran franchisees has been a milestone moment for the program, putting the very people we serve on the front lines and letting them pay it forward for the next generation of veteran entrepreneurs. The spirit of Don Dwyer and his vision for VetFran is still with us, and that vision remains to be ever bolder, ever more ambitious and ever more creative.

In the coming years, this community of veteran franchisees will become a community of mentorship, new and exclusive resources, discounts and opportunities, and an engine of educating veterans and transitioning service members about pathways into entrepreneurship and small business ownership. We hope you or a veteran franchisee you know will be one of them, and we hope you join us on this next chapter of answering the call of duty we all share to help our nation’s heroes pursue their own pathways into prosperity.

Radim Dragomaca is the Director of the VetFran Program and Strategic Communications for the International Franchise Association Foundation. He can be reached at