GSA Serves the Nation by Assisting America's Vets
As Memorial Day draws near, our thoughts turn to America’s veterans, who throughout history have put nation before self, often at great personal risk and sacrifice.
President Bush has said, “We are in their debt more than a lifetime of Memorial Days could repay. Their sacrifices left us with a duty that goes on through the generations, to honor them in our thoughts and our words and in our lives.”
An eloquent statement, yet the president may have said it best when he put pen to paper and signed an Executive Order that obligates the federal government to expand business opportunities for firms owned by service-disabled veterans.
As the government’s premier provider of billions worth of goods and services annually, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is uniquely positioned to help federal agencies meet the requirements of the President’s order.
It is a duty we accept with pride and honor, because honoring those who served is more about deeds than words.
As we enjoy the warmth of spring, we should also remember those who at this moment are in harm’s way in Iraq and other dangerous parts of the globe. Those who are injured will benefit from advances in battlefield medicine, but many will also return home with life-altering injuries.
GSA is committed to helping vets and service-disabled vets who want to become entrepreneurs. This is a point of honor, but it is also a point of common sense. When we expand economic opportunities for veterans, we’re drawing on men and women who know teamwork, discipline, cooperation, and mission accomplishment. GSA initiatives include:
- The new 21 Gun Salute, a program geared to helping agencies direct at least three percent of their contracting dollars to businesses owned by service-disabled vets.
- Last year, we launched a Veterans Governmentwide Acquisition Contract that gives special preference to information–technology companies owned by service-disabled veterans. A major plus of the “VETS GWAC” is its broad contract scope, which provides information security as well as information systems engineering, systems operation and maintenance. The 44 industry partners on VETS represent firms that have met high standards in past performance, technical capabilities and contract performance plans.
- We have expanded nationwide education efforts that explain how small firms can become pre-approved GSA vendors – a critical first step to doing business with the government.
- And GSA recently broke ground on the Armed Forces Home in Gulfport, Miss. that was ruined by Hurricane Katrina. This facility will provide independent living, assisted living, or long-term care for 584 vets.
Memorial Day begins a season of remembrance. Through Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Patriot Day, the idea of memory, honor, and sacrifice is present in our hearts and minds. Expressing our gratitude and patriotism is important; so is expanding business opportunities for those who placed their personal welfare second to our national security.
I’m proud that for GSA, the season of remembrance is a year-round commitment.
David L. Bibb is Acting Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration