Military & Veterans Affairs

Virginia is home to a strong military and veteran community. Defense has historically been a strong economic sector for Virginia, and it remains an important part of Virginia’s economy, with an estimated $60.3 billion in defense-related spending, much of which is in Virginia-based companies. As Virginia continues to diversify its economy, we must protect its current military assets and resources. Over 115,000 active military personnel are spread throughout Virginia at numerous Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard facilities. 

Virginia is deeply committed to taking care of service members, their spouses and families, and providing a high quality of life for them not only while they serve but as they transition to civilian life. Our goal is to be the best state in the nation for military families with increased access to community-based health care services, quality education and childcare services for their children, and economic opportunity to ensure their financial stability.

Virginia has the fastest-growing veteran population in the nation, where one in 10 Virginians is a veteran. One of the most important services we can deliver is to help ensure our transitioning service members, veterans and their spouses are equipped with the skills that will give them access to today’s in-demand careers. Our military community also represents an invaluable resource for employers that need highly qualified talent to increase profitability and productivity.

The recommendations here discuss how Virginia can protect and secure its current military assets, while ensuring our veterans can access civilian careers upon the completion of their service.

  • Strengthen military missions that currently exist in Virginia
  • Communicate the value of future military missions in Virginia
    • Grow the Commonwealth’s leadership in shipbuilding and maintenance, intelligence gathering, and unmanned systems research and development across military and private sectors
  • Encourage the development of a state-funded defense community infrastructure program to assist communities that surround Virginia’s military bases with planning projects that contribute to readiness, resiliency, and improved quality of life
  • Support cross-regional collaboration for strategic opportunities like developing the talent pipeline for critical military operations
  • An example is the Danville and Hampton Roads collaboration as a federal designated Defense Manufacturing Community
  • Enhance coastal resiliency to mitigate the impact of sea-level rise on security and military readiness
  • Continue to support the Virginia Military Advisory Council in order to strengthen the public-private partnership between military and the civilian community

  • Educate Virginia’s business leaders, hiring managers, and recruiters on the value of employing members of the military community and provide training and resources that empower them to connect with military talent 
  • Encourage and facilitate business engagement in the state’s Virginia Values Veterans program to better advertise career opportunities and attract veteran talent to the Commonwealth
  • Identify and advocate for business incentives to train and hire veterans, including internships and other work-based learning opportunities
  • Provide clearly defined and easy to use pathways and other career readiness resources to transitioning service members (TSMs), veterans, and spouses to help them prepare for and seek employment
  • Include justice-involved veterans and disabled veterans in these efforts
  • Connect transitioning service members, veterans, and spouses to careers in Virginia through the Virginia Chamber’s HIRE VETS NOW events and in collaboration with other military employment organizations and initiatives in the Commonwealth
  • Leverage Virginia’s strong network of veterans in the business community for mentorship, advisory, and networking opportunities in formal and informal ways like the Virginia’s Exec Vets Connect partnership and other initiatives
  • Encourage more opportunities to modify or substitute military experience for degree requirements

  • Fully support the adoption of occupational and professional reciprocity policies to enable military spouses to find employment opportunities as soon as they receive orders to installations in Virginia
  • Establish the Commonwealth as the top state in the country in reducing military spouse unemployment and underemployment
    • Leverage initiatives such as Virginia’s Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones
  • Incentivize development of training, internship, employment, and other meaningful career opportunities for military spouses
  • Address barriers to spouse employment such as availability of affordable childcare, flexible working arrangements, and discrimination in hiring 
    • Create a method of military spouse self-identification so employers can build programming and initiatives that aid in military spouse hiring
    • Encourage employers to market themselves as military spouse friendly employers

  • Empower veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs by increasing access to capital, corporate and government contracting opportunities, mentorship and business support
  • Build on Virginia’s reputation as a leader in education and career training for student veterans and their spouses
  • Expand opportunities for veterans and their spouses to gain access to training and education for careers in high demand fields prior to transitioning from the military
  • Facilitate the development of short-term training programs, work-based learning opportunities and apprenticeships for veterans, spouses, and family members
  • Promote increased awareness and use by Virginia companies and military installations of pre-transition training programs such as the Department of Defense’s Skill Bridge program
    • Promote increased awareness and use of the HIRE VETS NOW Fellowship Skill Bridge program
    • Retain student veterans, transitioning service members (TSMs), and military spouses by providing on-the-job training (OJT), internship, and apprenticeship employment opportunities through programs like LEAD4IT, a statewide initiative to increase work-based learning opportunities in IT and cyber security
    • Include veteran training and employment prominently in the development of talent pathways throughout Virginia’s higher education system 
  • Leverage a “credits to careers” approach in preparing our military community for a transition to a civilian career
  • Develop a credit-for-prior-learning model that helps veterans earn the credentials required for civilian careers in an expedited time frame based on their military experience
  • Assist education and training institutions in understanding and meeting the needs of the military-connected student and identifying employment pathways for veterans
  • Support and promote Virginia Department of Veterans Services’ Virginia’s Military Education & Workforce Initiative 

  • Ensure that Virginia remains the top state for transitioning service members, veterans, and their families in the United States
  • Encourage transitioning service members, recent veterans, and their families to remain in or move to Virginia after their military service
    • Develop a statewide strategy to target the retention of transitioning service members, recent veterans, and their families 
    • Make Virginia the destination state for Veteran and Military Spouse-owned small businesses
    • Explore opportunities to make the Commonwealth more competitive in attracting and retaining more veterans in comparison to other states, including factors like economic environment, quality of life, and taxation
  • Strengthen support to the military community by prioritizing veteran and military family access to quality health care, including mental and behavioral health services, and child care needs
  • Increase access to community-based health care services and ensure private providers have better understanding of military culture 
  • Explore the potential for an employer tax credit for hiring military spouses and/or providing child care benefits
  • Advocate and raise awareness for the Governor’s Challenge on Suicide Prevention Among Veterans, Service Members, and their Families 
  • Encourage the adoption of military cultural competency training through Department of Veteran Services and other military culture trainings to better educate health care providers on the specific needs of the military and veteran communities