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What does it mean to be a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses in New York?

An American flag waves in the wind in front of a blue sky with clouds.
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels
An American flag waves in the wind in front of a blue sky with clouds.

This story originally aired November 11, 2021.

This week, in honor of Veteran’s Day, 14 businesses have been newly certified as Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses. This brings the statewide total to 913, but what exactly does that designation mean?

WBFO’s Emyle Watkins spoke with the Executive Director of the Division of Service-Disabled Veteran Business Development, Ken Williams about the program and what it offers to veterans.


Emyle Watkins: So could you tell me a little bit about what the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business program hopes to accomplish?

Ken Williams: What the program is, is it puts service-disabled veteran-owned business owners in a position that government and prime contractors of government seek out to them to perform work for them and, you know, give them work or buy materials or whatever from these businesses.

Emyle Watkins: What does it look like to get signed up for this program? And what are the benefits of it?

Ken Williams: There's no cost to getting certified. If they go to the website, which is ogs.ny.gov/veterans, okay, there's an application there. Or they can reach out by phone or email to our office. And most of my staff are veterans, I'm a veteran, you know, we look to work to help them get certified.

Emyle Watkins: It sounds like there's almost a community aspect to this where getting certified, it sounds like, might also help them connect with other service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.

Ken Williams: That is absolutely true. And I'll share my personal story. When I got out of the service in 1973, it was not a time when you advertised that you were a veteran. And so I went and I was an entrepreneur and did businesses and whatever, but I didn't connect with the veteran community. And I always felt I was not connected to anybody, I was a little different from everybody. Once I started with this program and meeting the other veterans that are doing businesses, it was, I say, it's like finding family again. It's, you know, finding people who think and act like I do, is very, very rewarding.

Emyle Watkins: Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time today to speak with us.

Ken Williams: Okay, Emyle, thank you.

Emyle Watkins is an investigative journalist covering disability for WBFO.