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New survey helps US companies prove their 'vet friendly' claims

American companies now marketing themselves as “veteran friendly” get a chance Tuesday to verify the depth of their patriotism by simply filling out a survey.

The National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) — an advocacy group for more than 3 million businesses owned by former service members — will release on Tuesday its annual questionnaire to once again assess, grade and name “the 10 best U.S. corporations that work with veteran-owned businesses,” the organization said. 

The top 10, to be published in the April issue Vetrepreneur magazine, will include only U.S. firms with more than $1 billion in annual revenues to ensure a fair comparison. NoVOBA assembles its annual list by examining how heavily each company uses veteran-owned businesses in its supplier network and by how aggressively the company works to pull veteran-owned vendors into its larger mission and keep them there. 

“Being a ‘veteran friendly’ company — not only in your hiring but also by using veteran firms — is very good press, and companies want to be reflected in that way,” said Matthew Pavelek, managing editor of Vetrepreneur magazine. “But I think there’s something to be said about the business case: They’re getting the best-quality products and services by using these (veteran-owned) businesses.”

For companies that choose to participate in the online survey, NaVOBA weights the percentage of small-business contracts that are allotted to veteran-owned firms as well as the total dollar volume paid to veteran-owned vendors.

For any veteran-owned outfits involved in helping boost conglomerates into top 10, there is pressure as well, Pavelek added.

“Wearing your veteran status on your sleeve kind of comes with this inherent responsibility and obligation to the rest of the veteran community to really follow through," Pavelek said. “You run the risk of giving all veterans a bad name if you don’t come in under budget or actually accomplish what you were set out to do with that contract.”

Some of the U.S. companies that have earned slots in NaVOBA's recent top-10 lists include: Booz Allen Hamilton, Comcast Corporation, DynCorp International, Johnson & Johnson, Life Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and Mack Trucks, Inc. 

(NBCNews.com is owned by Comcast’s NBC Universal unit.)

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