Group Helping Vets

By Dagmar Fors Karppi/

A new not-for-profit, Veterans Small Business Development Organization (VSBDO) has been formed to help veterans to start their own businesses. Matthew Meng announced the project at the July meeting of the East Norwich Chamber of Commerce.

He and former Congressmen Lester Wolf (VSBDO chairman and president), John L. Copen (secretary and vice president an entrepreneur), Neil J. Moritt, Esq. (vice president, an attorney located in Locust Valley), Matt Meng (treasurer and vice president, a business owner), have formed the group. They are interested in assisting and enabling veterans who wish to re-enter the workforce as self-employed entrepreneurs by providing them with start- up capital. Meng said, “The unemployment rate for veterans is 30 percent. To my knowledge there is no program to give funding to returning veterans to start their own business.”

Congressman Lester L. Wolff, a resident of Muttontown, said of the VSBDO, “This is something that I believe in. We are trying to fill in some of the cracks that were preventing these veterans from acquiring what is really due them. It is a disgrace to see people who did service for us now living in cars and in homeless shelters because they are unskilled and cannot get a job in this particular job market.”

Congressman Wolff said, “I think there is a need and there should be a push for a new G.I Bill; but that takes a long time and there are people in immediate need of help. I was one of the authors of the new GI Bill after the Vietnam War.”

The congressman served in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) from 1945 until 1950 and from 1968 until 1980. The CAP used their planes and flying skills in defense of their country. “I flew in the anti-submarine patrol along the east coast. We protected the ships that were going along the coast and coming from abroad from the Nazi submarines. They were decimating our shipping during WWII.”

For his service as a pilot, Congressman Wolff is now in the Air Force Hall of Fame. The Civil Air Patrol was an auxiliary of the Air Force. “The Congress is now in the process of giving us a gold medal for that service,” he said.

Seeking Grants

The congressman said they hope to get grants and private contributions so that the VSBDO can give grants to the veterans. They are not lending funds; but giving the money to the veterans as start up capital for creating their own businesses. The group hopes to lead them to other organizations that will take care of any needed training and development of skill-sets.

The VSBDO is organizing their project in three phases.  The first is interviewing people for the review committee board. They are looking for retired high-profile government/private sector and military individuals who understand the value of veterans’ training, said Meng. They plan to look into possible grants; seek out groups to partner with; and start a grass-roots campaign. The second phase will be the marketing campaign to seek contributions and grants. The third phase will be to market and manage the veteran application and approval process; find loans, mentoring programs, training programs and to continue to work with veterans on the project.

The third phase of the work will see the VSBDO in operation, helping veterans, expanding, and developing their work and managing the fund’s growth.

“If people want to become involved in the project, please call me at my cell number, 606-8053, at any time, 24/7,” said Meng, also the ENCA president.

Still Active

Former Congressman Wolff is at home in the sky as he commutes to Washington, D.C. every other week to film his video streaming show Ask (and also on that is shown on the Internet. He interviews Congressmen on current issues. The National Security Agency monitoring is a hot button issue today. He said,

“I think there are some things you have to give up for the security of the nation. We are in a different war than ever. It covers everything we have in our society. We have to allow certain concessions so that we remain safe. Some people feel it is an intrusion; but we will have no liberties if we don’t have security.”

“In the past we have had martial law. This is a war so unique in all of its aspects. We are fighting everyone; there are no uniforms; it is a guerilla force; and they are using every one of our liberties against us,” said the congressman.

He added that the Foreign Intelligence Security Court, in using FISA {Federal Intelligence Survellience Act}, should be more diligent about their decisions on what should be done: that they have not acted to the full extent of their responsibilities.

“There has to be limits to our freedom if there is to be order in our society,” he said.

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