The success of veteran transition programs in Virginia should be measured by job placement. Coordination, connection and collaboration, underpinned by communication, will be the best way to use our resources to support the newest generation of veterans according to Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, John Harvey, who spoke at “A Passion to Serve” on Tuesday, June 17, held at the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce in Hampton.
Sponsored by the Southeast Virginia (SEVA) Rapid Response, of Thomas Nelson Workforce Development, the event was a speakers’ forum on military and veteran engagement and connection on how to best service veterans and get them back to work as quickly as possible. The forum was a collaboration between SEVA Rapid Response, the Chamber, the VPCC Military Affairs Council, and the Peninsula Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).
“Sequestration is still the law of the land and will continue to be for the next three years,” stated Harvey. “Downsizing on the number of active duty soldiers will continue and as a result we will create more veterans. Virginia already has the highest growing number of vets in the country. We need to do more to capture the talent.”
Organizations that support veterans in the workforce, education, career, transition and additional services were present at the event that repeatedly emphasized the importance of coordination, connection, collaboration and communication, as stated in Harvey’s address throughout the event.
During his address, Harvey encouraged leaders in the room to change the conversation regarding veterans, who are seen in the media as broken. Harvey reminded the audience that veterans are not wounded and damaged because of their service, they are better because of it.
“Veterans are elite employees that will help build your business,” stated Harvey. “We [the military] take them and train the heck out of them. They learn how to work in a team, show up on time and pass drug test.”
Guest of the forum had an opportunity to hear and interact with Harvey as well as Michael Lawston, President of the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers (VACE); Douglas Morfeld, Work and Family Life Coordinator for the Fleet and Family Support Program, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic; and Andrew Schwartz, Director of Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Department of Veteran Services.
“I thought the meeting met and set the standard in nature and character of the four tenets Secretary Harvey continuously repeated that as a holistic workforce system, we must communicate, coordinate, collaborate, and connect to effectively help veterans in transition find meaningful employment. Hopefully, as a way forward, Rapid Response will continue the proactive outreach momentum of engagement and connection through collaboration, education, and awareness,” said Curtis Wray, SEVA Rapid Response Coordinator.