- Associated Press - Sunday, May 29, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has introduced a bill to improve access to Small Business Administration programs for members of the National Guard and Reserves.

Despite their benefits, the programs, introduced in 1999, remain low in use because little is known about them.

Shaheen’s bill, co-sponsored by fellow Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, would restructure the programs so that they are not limited to periods of conflict, reflecting the shift reserve forces have experienced over the past decade from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve.

The bill also would direct the SBA to work with the National Guard Bureau and State Adjutant Generals to identify existing SBA programs relevant to members of the Guard and Reserves and develop more targeted and effective outreach, particularly before deployment.

“Members of the National Guard and Reserve bravely defend our nation, and they should deploy with the peace of mind that their businesses will not suffer while they are away,” Shaheen said.

Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, president of the National Guard Association of the United States, said the loans, training, counseling and emergency assistance provided by the bill “will go a long way toward helping our small-business owners in uniform and their families. It will also keep that invaluable entrepreneurial spirt alive and well in our ranks.”

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