Commonwealth Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, John C. Harvey, Jr., briefed members of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce June 19, on efforts the Commonwealth has undertaken to support a growing veteran population in the state.
Secretary Harvey was on hand for a special presentation on the impact spending has on the regional business community. Harvey stressed the importance of collaborative, open forum conversation, tying his comments to that of the Roosevelt Group, a DC-based government relations consulting firm. The Chamber partnered with Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance to advance the discussion on Defense spending and its impact on the region. For more on the Roosevelt Group presentation, click here.
“We can’t talk about veterans separate from the defense impact and the Commonwealth’s strength,” said Harvey. He offered that the path to employability for these veterans is effectively managing their transition to the civilian sector.
As secretary, Harvey is responsible for the oversight of all veterans-related issues in Virginia, executed through the Department of Veteran Services, and ensuring that a productive relationship is maintained with the military services and Department of Defense activities located within the Commonwealth. Secretary Harvey also leads Governor McAuliffe's initiatives focused on military communities to ensure Virginia remains the base and installation location of choice.
Discussing the value of such briefings, Cameron Ingram, the Tidewater Business Development Principal for Lockheed Martin, said the forum was not only an excellent forum, but a clear, public demonstration of strong partnerships at work. “The Chamber’s work with HRMFFA and other partners is critically important to the entire region,” said Ingram. “Like Admiral Harvey stated, this region is well poised. Our region’s potential meets and exceeds any challenge we might face.”
Harvey noted he has been working with elected officials to rewrite Virginia Code, keeping pace with a growing veteran population in the Commonwealth. In two years, Virginia will have the fourth largest veteran population, continuing to generate more transitioning service members at a rapid pace.
Harvey discussed the veteran portfolio and the defense portfolio, but most importantly,discussed how they are linked. Harvey explained, “The linkage is extraordinarily important for the future of economic vitality of the Commonwealth.”
Transitioning from employment to healthcare, Harvey says he is not convinced money is the solution to the issues before him. He shared what the governor has asked him, “John - what can we do as a Commonwealth? What can we do to make sure Virginia’s veterans, in the midst of this crisis we don’t lose anybody falling through the cracks?”
Harvey spoke about the world-class hospitals and health systems all around Hampton Roads and a plan he has to visit VA hospitals around the Commonwealth. “What can we do to mobilize what the Commonwealth has to ensure that the areas where they most need help right now we can provide whatever assistance they need?” asked Harvey.
Harvey shared his concern that there is a health system that is unable to deal with the reality today. Harvey added, “The system isn’t responsive enough and it’s not a money issue, it’s a performance and people issue.”
“You’re not going to solve this one community at a time, you’re not going to solve this one region at a time, and you’re not going to solve this one veteran at a time,” said Harvey. “We have to find a way to put organizations together across the region capturing that talent we have. It is a regional issue. How do you get on that path to employability?”
Harvey admitted that too often the government is concentrating on activity and not results. He said he would like to try to reverse that trend, “It’s output I am focused on, and who is going to be training and how to hire veteran’s and why to hire veterans.”
He cited growing support from the business sector, which understands the value of veterans as future employees.
“It’s not just the right thing to do for the veteran but it’s the right thing to provide because of the talents skills and workforce that group (veterans) brings to you,” said Harvey.
The Chamber would like to thank our special partner sponsor of today’s briefing, the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance; and our silver sponsor, the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads as well as the table sponsors, program sponsor and exhibitor.