Disabled Veterans Are Also Overlooked In The Ad Biz

Normally, I wouldn’t have had my radar too high on this issue, but as I read about the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this weekend, it reminded me that all too often, we simply don’t, as a society, offer as much support to our veterans as they deserve.
Neither does the ad industry, apparently, as I learned flipping through Ad Age this morning.
In a letter to the editor, (I can’t find the letter online), David Esrati, owner of The Next Wave in Dayton, Ohio, writes of his frustration about the ad industry’s so-called diversity intiatives, which often overlooks disabled veteran status.
He has alluded to it before on his blog:

The Next Wave is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business, with HUB (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) zone certification. If you are a big agency that’s doing work for the Government, those certifications are very important- it’s Federal law that 3% of your budget be allocated to working with SDVOB and there can be other requirements mandating HUB zone participation.
The Next Wave has been listed in CCR (the Federal data base for eligible contractors) for over 10 years. We have been called by exactly 6 different businesses over those years- either as a last minute effort to include us in a list of “possible subcontractors” in a bid (Leo Burnett for the Army recruiting contract- which went to McCann, and Burson Marsteller on an unnamed project) and a whole bunch of times by the diversity master of the moment at SBC/ATT. It seems that SBC/ATT has very high diversity goals- but very poor follow through.

With more and more soldiers returning from Iraq, we’re going to have millions of American soldiers with unique problems–and unique needs, both physical and emotional. Will the ad industry have any clue how to deal with them as either employees or as consumers?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. One of the Men of the Square Table ads featured an amputee.

  2. Thanks for the mention. If my firm never gets a set-aside I’m fine with that, but, I hate the lip-service that this law is given- both by agencies with large contracts and the bureaucrats that are supposed to follow the law.
    I haven’t received my copy of Ad Age yet, so I wasn’t aware my letter was published.
    This issue is only going to grow over time.
    The difference between this war and previous wars is many more veterans survive serious injury than before. We are going to have to do a better job of taking care of them than we have of our other veterans.

  3. jp, that guy is Aron Ralston. The dude was rock climbing and got his hand stuck between two boulders and used a pen knife to cut off his arm/hand.

  4. The New York City Commission on Human Rights has accidentally managed to blur the real issue. Because the group decided to target minority hiring, and probably because key figures in the effort are Black, everyone seems to think this is a racial problem. This is really about racism, sexism, ageism and nearly every ism available. It’s about discriminatory hiring practices rooted in exclusivity. David Esrati further points out the global problem with his perspective.

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  6. I really hate to dis a fellow disabled vet, but if one thinks that just by having a posting on CCR, one is going to get calls, then a call a year for 6 years sounds about right.
    I personally worked my ass off; went to the offices of the SBA for FAR and FedBizOpps training; have been to several disabled vet conferances and what do you know; I won my first contract, $1.6 million in less than 6 months in my current configuration as a sole propriatership.
    I have emailed vertually every large government contractor from the SBA’s subcontracting opportunities list; I have emailed every small business POC for the VA and have yet to make a sale to the VA.
    There is a new law coming into effect; PL 109-461. This will change the procurement regs for the VA and make it manditory that they do business with disabled vets. It goes into effect this June. Get your ducks in a row and get ready for business this summer.

  7. The comments made are highly intelligent and useful. Here I add mine. Sorry guys, if you expect the new law P.L. 109-461 to improve things that is wishful thinking. About subcontracting – The only way an SDVOB will get work from a prime is if you can get to the prime very early – especially before the contract is publized in the fbo.gov. If you can offer a needed service more efficiently and less cost than the prime can, then he will talk to you. Also, primes normally want to deal with subs within driving distance of their location. If the prime is in VA and the SDV is in TX, unless your have a fantastic deal, you can forget about subcontract work. About prime work – It is extremely difficult to get work set aside form the SDVs because most agencies still maintain that there are not enough SDVs in a particular field (other than construction) to get enough bids. This is true and not true. It is true because not all eligible SDVs register in the CCR and it is not true because many agencies do not have the resources to make a search for eligible SDVs. Procurement is a tough field but it can be worth it.

  8. william a. odom jr. says:

    i have ran a corp. for last two years involved with contracts doing tree removal etc. in (new orleans),miss.ala.,plus snow storm in buffalo,n.y. & ice storm in springfield,mo. worked with philips& jordon -asbritt- cahaba i have worked as high as twenty crews at a time . would like to become a min0ority contractor, fell me in what to do if you can? thank you ,
    Bill Odom