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The 21 Gun Salute Initiative Benefitting SDVOSBs

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The 21 Gun Salute Initiative Benefiting SDVOSBs

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has made efforts to improve the prime and subcontracting opportunities available to small businesses owned and operated by service-disabled veterans.

As a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), you can access many opportunities in the federal market. The 21 Gun Salute initiative was created with gratitude for the injured soldier turned businessperson. The Salute is an action plan to meet and exceed the 3% contracting goal with the nation’s service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses  

The program, which has been in existence for more than a decade, contains seven main topics, or “guns”, complete with major sub-goals.

  • Gun #1 – The first gun is Awareness, and is designed to increase public awareness, internal awareness and identify SDVOSBs to provide high demand products and services.
  • Gun #2 – The second gun is Advocacy, which creates a Veterans Advisory Subcommittee to advocate for SDVOSB opportunities, with a special emphasis on Veteran set-asides. It also works to create a pool of advocates among buyers within GSA.
  • Gun #3 – The third gun is Innovation, which capitalizes on best practices for SDVOSB outreach, targets SDVOSBs for selected schedule buys, and finds innovations in financial accreditation of small business
  • Gun #4 – The fourth gun is Training and involves assisting SDVOSBs in finding markets and providing SDVOSB training to contracting officers government wide.
  • Gun #5 – The fifth gun is Recognition. This is a shout-out to SDVOSB supporters, and an acknowledgement of the successes among internal GSA family, enhancing the SDVOSB brand.
  • Gun #6 – The sixth gun is Accountability. This gun holds senior leaders accountable, measures and enforces SDVOSB goals to ensure achievement, and integrates procurement forecasts.
  • Gun #7- The seventh and final gun is Partnerships, which supports business-to-business partnerships among SDVOSBs, as well as interagency partnerships, such as with the SBA and the VA, and partnerships with veterans organizations.

If you are interested in learning more about the 21 Gun Salute initiative, visit the General Services Administration website at

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,


By Debbie Gregory

Veterans are uniquely qualified to secure government contracts due to the skills and experience they obtained during their military careers. Every year, the federal government spends approximately $500 billion on goods and services.  To maintain a level playing field, the Small Business Administration (SBA) works with federal agencies to ensure that at least 23% of all prime government contracts are awarded to small businesses. These are called “set- asides.”

For Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB), set-aside contracts can present outstanding opportunities.

There are two types of set-aside contracts: competitive set-asides and sole-source set-asides. With competitive set-asides, at least two small businesses may perform the work or provide the products being purchased, the government sets aside the contract exclusively for small businesses. With few exceptions, this happens automatically for all government contracts under $150,000.

Sole-source contracts are the type of contract that may be issued without a competitive bidding process. This usually happens in situations when only a single business can fulfill the requirements of a specific contract.

Pursuant to the SBA website, In order to qualify for the disabled veterans’ business program, your business must:

  • Be a small business
  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans
  • Have one or more service-disabled veterans manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
  • Eligible veterans must have a service-connected disability

The certification process varies depending on the SBA contracting program. In some cases, you may self-represent your business to the federal government as being owned by a service-disabled veteran.  You need to update the socio-economic status section of your business profile at in the System for Award Management (SAM) at

The VA sets aside contracts for veterans through their Veterans First Contracting Program. Their program is not the same as the SBA’s program. To obtain access to set-aside Veterans Affairs contracts, your business must be verified through the Vets First Verification Program at

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,