Veteran employment program now targeting SW Virginia employers

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Our hometowns are now the focus of a statewide program that acts like a matchmaking service between veterans and the employers looking to hire them.

Tuesday the Department of Veterans Services brought the V3 program to the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. V3 stands for Virginia Values Veterans. According to program leaders, so far V3 has certified more than 700 employers in their program, but only about four percent are from southwest Virginia. That is something the department is looking to change.

Megan LoBuglio is working as a translator of sorts. She spent Tuesday explaining to a handful of Roanoke businesses gathered at the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce about the skills veterans might bring to a civilian job.

"And you know we've been having that conversation with veterans for decades but there was a missing link," she said. "But that missing link was also having that conversation with employers."

At the end of training, these employers will have direct access to highly skilled, job-hunting veterans.

"And that's great because we take that big scary world of thousands of jobs out there and we narrow it down to a couple hundred, very strong, very educated employers in the community and really dovetail and bridge that gap," she said.

LoBuglio knows how helpful that is. She's an Air Force veteran of 13 years herself.

"All veterans definitely have a bucket of skill sets that all employers across the board are looking for," LoBuglio said, noting that veterans getting out of service now are usually very highly skilled technically. She herself worked in combat control for fighter aircraft at home and abroad.

Tony Carroll agrees with LoBuglio on the point of the multiskilled veteran. That's why the company he works for, Syncom Electronics, is looking to hire more of them.

“And we need employees that are reliable and have technical ability to be able to do these jobs," he said. "Because a lot of these go into military applications where there’s a lot of precision involved and any kind of defect is a pretty big deal, so we have to be able to mitigate that.”

Business for Syncom Electronics, Carroll said, is focused heavily in defense and right now it's booming.

“Well we’ve got 28 people, but we’re growing," he said. "We’ve grown about 20 percent in the last year, we’re expecting to grow about another 30 percent over the next year.”

That's partially why V3 is focusing on SW Virginia. LoBuglio said the program was focused heavily in eastern Virginia since its inception in 2012. That was partially to vet the program first, and because many military institutions are focused in the east. But now, LoBuglio said, southwest Virginia is looking very attractive.

"We see the economic development and quite frankly the renaissance and the boom that's happening here in SW Virginia," LoBuglio said.

The program is free for employers and, LoBuglio said, successful. She said since 2012, more than 45,000 veterans were hired through the V3 program. But out of the more than 750 V3 certified businesses, only about 4 percent are situation in southwest Virginia.

But the economic boom she talks of is the boom attracting veterans just like Carroll himself, who was lured by the beauty of the mountains and the shine of growing opportunity.

"There's so many tech companies that are springing up here I think is a function of how well the economy is doing and also how many resources are here," he said.

More information about the program can be found at : https://www.dvs.virginia.gov/education-employment/employment-v3