The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce paid tribute to more than 150 service members from the region on August 8 as a part of its biannual Military Recognition Reception. Held at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, the event honors the military personnel from area commands for their service.
Chamber President & CEO Bryan K. Stephens opened the event and expressed to the honorees, “I hope that you all understand how tremendously special you are by the fact that you are wearing that uniform and serving our nation.”
“We want to stop as a community, especially as a business community, to recognize you,” said Stephens. “We want to pause and recognize you men and women of the armed forces for your service and accomplishments that make our country what it is today.”
Stephens noted, “Out of a 32 million population, only one and four fit the minimum criteria to wear our nation’s uniform. There’s about 20 percent who don’t have the education requirement, 35 percent who are not medically qualified, 19 percent can’t pass a drug test and another 5 percent have some sort of criminal record.”
United States Congressman Rob Wittman served as the event’s keynote speaker. “This is a true honor for all of us to take time out of our schedules and recognize the best of the best,” said Wittman.
He added, “Service to our nation in uniform is a family affair, as you serve, whether deployed down range or at sea, your loved ones are at home - they’re keeping the home fires burning, they are making sure that all the aspects of your family continue to be carried out on a daily basis.”
Congressman Wittman referenced the 2013 sequestration, which included massive cuts to the Department of Defense’s budget, stating, “We cannot under any circumstance, try to balance this nation’s budget on the backs of the men and women in the military.”
Wittman continued, “We have a constitutional responsibility to provide for this nation’s defense. The top priority for this nation should always be properly resourcing our military. Are our men and women in uniform getting the training they need? Is the equipment that they’re using properly maintained? And are we modernizing what they had beforehand to make sure we can keep up with our adversaries. I don’t want you to ever go into a fair fight.”
The Chamber holds Military Recognition Receptions twice a year because the military community is such an important part of our region. The Chamber is focusing efforts on strengthening the relationship between the military and business communities. The Chamber has been recognizing the accomplishments of the military at this reception for nearly two decades.
The service members were joined at the reception by their families, military leadership, elected officials, and businessmen and women from the region.
Thank you to event sponsors: Marriott Norfolk Waterside (Hospitality Sponsor); City of Norfolk (Gold Sponsor); Sentara Optima Health Plan and USA Discounters (Silver Sponsor); Newport News Shipbuilding, Norfolk State University and Tidewater Community College (Bronze Sponsors); Borrell Associates and Omni Financial of Virginia (Program Sponsors).
The Chamber's Military Program Sponsors are: USAA (Platinum Sponsor); Geico (Gold Sponsor); Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance (Special Partner); ECPI University, Liberty Tax Service - Corporate Office, and Lockheed Martin Corporation (Silver Sponsors); First Command Financial Planning; Regent University; Saint Leo University – South Hampton Roads Center and Troy University (Bronze Sponsors).