Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center opens in Newport News

Posted at 11:37 AM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 13:43:48-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center is opening in Newport News.

The center plans to give veterans living on the peninsula some relief when it comes to the transition out of the service.

The center will assist them in resume building and connect them with community colleges so they may begin year-long training programs or short-term certification processes, depending on their career goals.

The President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, which runs the employment center, says these jobs will primarily be in maritime, construction and healthcare.

Shawn Avery - president and CEO of Hampton roads workforce council

"We have a lot of individuals doing nursing," said President and CEO, Shawn Avery. "We've got Portsmouth Naval across the river. [These service members] are coming out of the military and they have perfect skills, they just need to know how to translate that into civilian speak."

Avery says there will also be a "Smithfield Experience" program offered.

Smithfield Foods, which granted the facility $300,000 to get started, says they are hiring 4,000 veterans by 2025 through the programs.

The new employment center is also open to military spouses, who can get help putting together a resume, take career-building workshops, and undergo workforce training.

Sultan Camp - director, Hampton roads veteran employment centers

"Military spouses are the cornerstone of our military community," said Sultan Camp, the director of Hampton Roads Veteran Employment Centers. "Ensuring that spouse has a solid career, so when that military member decides to go to school or get out, that spouse already has a career that makes sense for the family."

That sense of stability is what area experts believe makes veterans mentally healthy and keeps them in Hampton Roads.

According to clinicians, veterans oftentimes struggle emotionally during their transitional period.

"I think it goes back to their identity," said Sarah Pitzen, the lead clinician at Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at The Up Center. "Folks signed up to fight in a war, they knew what they were getting involved in. Being on the other side of that, not being in a war, they're having to acclimate and [figure out] what that looks like for not only them but their families because their families serve alongside them."

By working with community colleges and nonprofits like area food banks, the workforce council believes the new employment center can be a one-stop shop for service members to fulfill both their career goals and emotional needs.

To contribute to or volunteer with the Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center, you can finish the Hampton Roads Workforce Council's website.