The Hampton Roads Chamber states that 13,000 military personnel in our region leave their service and transition to the private sector each year. The advantages of retaining transitioning military personnel in Hampton Roads are plentiful. They help grow and diversify the economy, enhance chances of attracting relocating businesses and bolster our region's national reputation.
The Hampton Roads region is widely known for being home to one of the largest populations of military personnel in the world, with roughly 83,000 active duty military residing here. It's also home to the largest naval base in the world; 45 percent of the region’s economic activity stems from Department of Defense spending.
Our economy is intertwined with defense. So what do we do to encourage veterans to remain in our community once they complete their service?
Local community colleges and universities have tailor-made programs for transitioning military personnel. At Christopher Newport University in Newport News, students are guided through the process of using their Veterans Administration entitlement to ensure adherence to procedural requirements and certify enrollment.
At Tidewater Community College, veterans can earn credit for their military service. The school also offers a veteran mentor program that matches student veterans with someone in the community who has successfully transitioned from military service to the private sector.
Regent University in Virginia Beach offers multiple discount and tuition reduction programs for active duty, veterans, and their families.
Old Dominion University in Norfolk features scholarship opportunities for former military as well as a distance-learning program.
Norfolk State University has been named a Military Friendly institution for six years running by GI Jobs magazine, while Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk has two VA Certifying Officials to help veteran students transition into their campus community.
In North Carolina, the strong network of community colleges ensures every resident in the state is 30 miles or less from a higher education facility.
Military personnel in transition have many challenges, but the USO of Hampton Roads encourages people not to go it alone. The free USO Transition 360 Alliance programs offers multiple support services. The Virginia Department of Veterans Services also has resources available ranging from education and employment to health care and family services.
For veterans exploring opportunities in North Carolina, there is www.nc4vets.com. Visiting this comprehensive website should be first on the to-do list. It offers links to valuable information on housing, personal services, education, health care, VA benefits, and employment.
Much has been made about companies who have made a concerted effort to hire veterans, and for good reason.
The Home Depot, frequently ranked among the nation’s most military friendly employers, has donated tens of millions of dollars to support safe homes for veterans and has in place a hiring commitment which will result in 55,000 more jobs for veterans.
Businesses that hire ex-military not only enjoy a public relations boost, they also benefit from employing hard working, loyal, skilled people.
For those who have a job opening, be sure to consider transitioning military personnel. We know they possess the skills every employer needs, but don’t take our word for it.
A recent study performed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University entitled The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran – Beyond the Cliches offers ten advantages transitioning Veterans have over non-military candidates:
They are entrepreneurial, trustworthy and can readily adapt their skills and training to scenarios in the business environment, the study said. Military candidates also have advanced technical training, high levels of resiliency, advanced team-building skills, high levels of commitment and loyalty, cross-cultural sensitivity and experience in diverse work settings, as well as being adept in dynamic and uncertain environments.
For information about military friendly employers in Virginia, check out this list compiled by the Virginia Employment Commission. North Carolina jobs for Veterans can be found here, sorted by job time and region.
With all this talent here, business leaders should consider the positive impact on the region and on their bottom line by hiring transitioning military personnel. It’s good for your business, and it’s good for Hampton Roads.
This article was published in the July 11, 2016 edition of Inside Business.