The Department of Veterans Services (DVS) this week met with more than 40 employers during a conference to announce the "Virginia Values Veterans (V3) initiative that will help successfully recruit and retain military veterans. Representing companies ranging in size from 20 employees up to corporations such as Anthem, Dominion Resources and Amazon.com, hiring managers and senior executives in attendance all had two essential qualifications in common: they are all hiring in Virginia and are committed to hiring military veterans.
The V3 initiative will work to develop a Commonwealth-wide approach to reducing veteran unemployment. By some estimates, the unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is close to 30 percent. V3, at its core, is an economic investment initiative to re-capitalize Virginia's workforce.
"It is our duty to serve the men and women of America's armed forces who have served their country so bravely around the world and are coming home to Virginia,"said Governor Bob McDonnell. "The Commonwealth is home to many of our countries greatest military units and their families, and our active duty, reserve and retired military members deserve to return to good paying jobs that use their skills learned in the military to serve their fellow citizens back home. I applaud DVS and the companies involved in this effort for doing their part to put these veterans back to work, and to help make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the nation."
In his keynote address for the V3 event, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling said, "Uncle Sam has already selected a cadre of well-trained and disciplined potential employees for Virginia businesses. We don't want our veterans to have to look for a job. We want a job looking for them when they come out of the military."
V3 offers customized workforce assessment and training to companies committed to hiring and retaining veterans as part of their workforce. Participating companies will embark on a certification process that includes developing a pipeline to recruit veterans, completing a pilot program, and ultimately setting measurable goals for hiring and retaining veterans.
TMG, Inc. is partnering with DVS to develop the V3 certification program. Participants at the conference were provided a detailed roadmap to connect the dots between veterans searching for employment and employers searching for high quality talent.
Currently, there are dozens of separate efforts targeted to help veterans with training in job search techniques, resume preparation, interviewing skills, and transition assistance from a military to civilian work environment in Virginia. The V3 initiative represents a new and innovative approach to veterans employment by focusing on helping employers build veteran-employment pipelines that will attract, hire, train and retain veterans as part of their workforce. This new concept is a paradigm shift in how the employment process has historically worked.
"The V3 initiative couldn't have begun at a better time," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Terrie Suit. "With the tough economy, high unemployment rates and large number of new veterans and transitioning military personnel leaving the Armed Forces it is absolutely imperative that the Commonwealth of Virginia take every opportunity to assist where we can. V3 is a win-win situation for all parties involved and I'm very proud of DVS for their efforts."
Joe Barto, Founder and President of TMG, noted that veterans already have the basic skills and characteristics a company looks for-strong work ethic, team orientation, resilience, flexibility, reliability and leadership skills. "No matter who you hire, you're going to have to train them to use your company's equipment and follow your company's procedures," said Barto, himself a U.S. Army veteran. "The men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces come to you with the skills you really need, the ones that are not easily taught."
DVS will work to identify and highlight to military veterans those Virginia companies who have made the commitment to go beyond simply being "veteran friendly," and make themselves "veteran-strong."
This week's conference was the first of five V3 conferences that will be held by DVS. Additional V3 conferences will take place in Northern Virginia on Aug. 16, Hampton Roads in October, the Shenandoah Valley in December, and western Virginia in February 2013. The first annual V3 summit will be held in Richmond in May 2013.
To learn more about Virginia Values Veterans, visit www.virginiavaluesvets.com/2012.