As more former service personnel turn to entrepreneurship, they're generating jobs that helped cut the unemployment rate for veterans to a four-year low of 6.2 percent in April, lower than the 6.9 percent rate for adult non-veterans. The boost to the labor market matters: The White House projects more than a million Americans will leave the military through 2015.
One growing option is franchising. Veteran-owned franchise openings reported last year increased by 11,469, compared with 6,081 in 2010, according to the International Franchise Association, a trade organization in Washington.
Veterans own about 2.4 million businesses, or 9 percent of all U.S. businesses, employing 5.8 million workers, data from the Small Business Administration show. More former military personnel may consider starting a business as hiring elsewhere remains uneven.
Among franchise owners, veterans are 30 percent more likely than non-veterans to have hired a former service member, according to the franchise association's 2012 survey of 791 businesses. Yet 80 percent of franchisees weren't aware of special tax credits for employers who hire ex-military people.
Rummells said his enterprise began in earnest after his bright-yellow van, outfitted for bug-control equipment, arrived this month. He snagged 15 customers at one trade show, is working on a contract for an outdoor wedding in July, and looks forward to more business.
"It feels like I'm on patrol," he said. "This time, I have a new enemy. Mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas."